19th Century Crime and Punishment in England
In London, the dispensation of justice has been of a great concern. Historically, there has been a lot of complains on the treatment of petty offenders from the low social classes in this country. While it is a common knowledge that felony is a small offense which does not cause a detrimental huge impact on a country’s economy, the way in which felony convicts have been punished has been so unfair. However, in most cases, such sentences have been made under the influence of the rich class.
During the 19th century, the London Police Court was manipulated by the rich to oppress the poor felon convicts. Despite being unjustified, this was done in order to protect the interests of the rich community. For instance, employers who were faced with cases of industrial action in their premises would greatly rely on the help of magistrates to restore sanity in their businesses. Similarly, the judicial process was used in favor of employers to help them to get rid of the workers involved in petty thefts (Universities of Hertfordshire, 1983).This was prominently used in the Shipping companies in which the magistrates were relied upon to help the employers punish dock thieves. Instead of punishing workers by interdiction or sacking it was felt imposing harsh punishments would absolutely eradicate such offenses.
The enforcement of the Criminal Justice Act worsened the situation because it allowed magistrates to impose harsher fines on petty offenders who would be unluckily convicted. In this case, it would be a win on the prosecutor team and the surest way of dealing with such offenses which were very difficult to detect. At the same time, the punishments prevented the offenders from repeating same acts and graduating into more dangerous offenses like murder. By eradicating all the fruits and vegetable thieves, traders would get an easier time of carrying out their activities without any obstacle. This would also challenge the thieves to work harder to provide for themselves.
Universities of Hertfordshire (1983) Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 8th September 1831, page
138. London: HRI Online Publications.