Richard Friedman 's Seminal Work, Crime And Punishment Essay

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Several themes emerge from the course Frontier Justice that match well with the major themes in Lawrence Friedman’s, seminal work, Crime and Punishment in American History. His main thesis is that judgements about crime and what to do about it come from a specific time and place. Part of his work addresses the history of criminal justice in which he calls, the history of power. He identifies the relationship between crime, criminal justice and American culture. When one looks at the frontier West and its dynamics, one can see how those in power bent and at times broke the law in order to achieve their aims. Culture played an important role in many part of the West which was a far different culture than the one found in the East. This different culture resulted from the dynamics of Westward expansion and had dramatic role in shaping the West. Certainly, the frontier West can be described as both a time and place.
Many have romanticized views of what the West was like. The historian Robert Utley wrote, “historical reality lies somewhere between the extremes”. As one examines everything in between, what emerges from the comparison of Friedman’s work and that of frontier justice, is a question of what were the causes of violence in the West. Before the frontier closed, it could be described at times as a lawless land influenced by the lawful law and the lawless law. The causes of this violence are as diverse as the West itself. Several factors came together in a sort of perfect

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