Ransom kidnapping in America, 1874-1974: the creation of a capital crime

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Southern Illinois University Press, 1978 - Law - 222 pages
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Relatively unknown in this country be­fore 1874, when the first ransom kid­napping as we know it took place, the incidence of the crime has since burgeoned to a recorded number of some 1,700 cases. In 1874, the act con­stituted a crime only in a handful of jurisdictions, and in those states the maximum penalty was seven years im­prisonment. Subsequent laws, and the making of the act a federal capital crime in the 1930s when the Lindbergh kid­napping outraged public sentiment, evolved slowly, the author of this un­usually interesting work shows.


In this first attempt to bring together and analyze all known sociological and historical information on this important segment of American crime and crime control, Ernest K. Alix dispels the myth of the importance of the Lind­bergh case in changing attitudes and establishing social values. Not even the evolving laws, Alix contends, were the direct reflection of the will of the majority. Second, the entire subject has been prone to error and ideological mis­interpretation which only a close exam­ination of the facts and a careful inter­pretation of the results can overcome.


The importance of the work lies in its integrated treatment of crime and law. It will be invaluable to students and professionals in allied fields.

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Ransom Kidnapping in the Nineteenth
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About the author (1978)

Ernest Kahlar Alix is Associate Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has specialized in criminology, social deviance, and sociology of law, and has published numerous articles in these fields.

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