By Allen Steinberg
Steinberg first establishes why the courts were the sources of law enforcement, authority, and criminal justice before the advent of the police. He shows how the city's system of private prosecution worked, adapted to massive social change, and came to dominate the culture of criminal justice even during the first decades following the introduction of the police. He then considers the dilemmas that prompted reform, beginning with the establishment of a professional police force and culminating in the restructuring of primary justice.
Making extensive use of court dockets, state and municipal government publications, public speeches, personal memoirs, newspapers, and other contemporary records, Steinberg explains the intimate connections between private prosecution, the everyday lives of ordinary people, and the conduct of urban politics. He ties the history of Philadelphia's criminal courts closely to related developments in the city's social and political evolution, making a contribution not only to the study of criminal justice but also to the larger literature on urban, social, and legal history.
- Chapel Hill, NC