Race and Homicide in Nineteenth-century California
High murder rates have always been considered an indication of a society in turmoil, and nineteenth-century California was no exception. A rapidly growing population, booming mining camps, insufficient or nonexistent law-enforcement personnel, and many ethnic groups with differing attitudes toward law and personal honor created a situation in which violence was common and legal responses varied broadly. Clare V. McKanna Jr. has published widely on the history of criminal justice in the West. For Race and Homicide in Nineteenth-Century California, he studied coroners' inquest reports, court case files, prison registers, and other primary sources, as well as numerous printed sources, to analyze patterns of homicide and the vagaries of the state's embryonic justice system. The nature of crimes, he discovered, varied with the ethnicity of perpetrators and victims, as did trials and sentencing patterns. Marginalized individuals, like the state's diminishing Indians, fared worst, and Hispanics, whose traditional legal system differed in important ways from the imported practices of the new white majority, did little better. Homicide in the Chinese community was largely confined to fellow
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Prison Homicide Rates and Justice
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