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By Stephen Robertson

Within the first half the 20 th century, american citizens' excessive drawback with intercourse crimes opposed to little ones resulted in a wave of public dialogue, legislative motion, and felony prosecution. Stephen Robertson offers the 1st large-scale, long term research of ways American felony courts handled the prosecution of sexual violence. Robertson describes how the nineteenth-century method of youth as a unmarried section of innocence started to shift on the finish of the century to incorporate a number of phases of formative years improvement, prompting reformers to create criminal different types resembling statutory rape and carnal abuse to guard young children. even if, whereas usual New Yorkers' involvement within the prosecution of these offenses reshaped their understandings of who was once a toddler and produced a brand new crisis to set up the age in their sexual companions, their ideals in adolescence innocence and in an idea of sexuality headquartered on sexual activity remained unchanged. accordingly, households' use of the legislation and jurors' judgements finally decreased the safety the recent legislation provided to little ones. Robertson's learn, in response to the formerly unexamined records of the hot York County district attorney's workplace, finds the significance of kid sexuality and intercourse crimes in twentieth-century American tradition.

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26 the age of in no ce nce When the nyspcc dealt with adults who had committed crimes against children like Ellen, its focus was on ensuring that those men and women were successfully prosecuted. ”49 He expressed no confidence in the power of “exhortations . . made upon . . duties as parents, guardians and custodians of the helpless” to change working-class behavior. 51 It also reflected late-nineteenth-century racial ideology. Anglo-Saxon Americans believed that members of the so-called less advanced races lacked the capacity, during the span of their lives, to develop the civilized traits that would bring their behavior into line with that of their betters.

48 Pairs of engravings, and later photographs, that illustrated the nyspcc’s Annual Report captured that transformation. A typical example from the Society’s second Annual Report, entitled “Ellen Connors — (Condition When Found),” shows a girl, only partially dressed in clothes that are little more than rags, with disheveled hair, and scars on her arms and face. She stands awkwardly, against an ill-defined background, gazing toward the viewer with a dazed expression. On the facing page, however, Ellen appears transformed.

71 In the most straightforward sense, this meant creating a trial brief for the prosecutor, which is to say, a summary of the statements of each of the prosecution’s witnesses. An examination of the briefs, which survive in the district attorney’s case fi les, reveals, however, that nyspcc agents did more than organize and summarize the information they had collected. They shaped the evidence into the form required to win a conviction, making it conform to jurors’ understandings of the alleged offense, as much as to the legal definition 30 the age of in no ce nce of that offense.

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