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Romilly And Rush: The Parallel Paths Of Penal Reform In Britain And America, 1780 - 1830

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Romilly And Rush: The Parallel Paths Of Penal Reform In Britain And America, 1780 - 1830

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Title: Romilly And Rush: The Parallel Paths Of Penal Reform In Britain And America, 1780 - 1830
Author: Hunnicutt, Wendell Allen
Abstract: After the end of the American Revolution, efforts were made in both American and in Britain to alter the penal code in order to reduce the number of offenses that carried the death penalty and to replace capital punishment with incarceration in a penitentiary. In Pennsylvania, Dr. Benjamin Rush achieved apparent success in this matter since, by the time of his death, the local jail was well on its way to being transformed into the total penal institution recognizable in the nineteenth-century penitentiary. Sir Samuel Romilly, on the other hand, faced relentless opposition in Parliament in his efforts to repeal the numerous statutes that constituted England's "Bloody Code." The revolutionary spirit in America allowed for the alteration in the penal code and the experimentation with less severe forms of punishment. In Britain, the spirit of revolution seemed too real and threatening to the entrenched elites and therefore efforts to alleviate the law's harshness came to naught as long as Napoleon Bonaparte remained in power. By the 1820s American interests had changed and penal reform slowed; in Britain, the absence of revolutionary threat allowed Britons to establish a police force and to relax their harsh laws.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/5134
Date: 2010-11-01

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