Friday, June 17, 2016

Might Speedy Trials Cut Murder Rate in U.S.? 1921

 “Early Trials for Criminals Advocated,” from The Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucky, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 1921
Cincinnati, Ohio, Sept. 9—The history of organized government demonstrates that the speedy trial of criminal cases and the swift and certain punishment of criminals effects a reduction in the volume of crime, Edwin W. Sims, president of the Chicago Crime Commission told the American Bar Association at its meeting here recently.
“On the other hand,” Mr. Sims continued, “Increased crime follows closely on the heels of delayed trials and deferred punishment. In short, crime increases of decreases in the proportion that punishment is swift and certain. The speed with which a crime is punished has a great deal more to do with the preservation of law and order than the severity of punishment.
“Three years ago the Chicago Association of Commerce appointed and financed a crime commission. It does not of itself undertake the apprehension nor the prosecution of criminals. The Commission limits its activities to an investigation of crimes of violence: murder, burglary, and robbery. It early reached the conclusion that the principal avenue of escape was the delay in the trial of criminal cases.
‘The commission was organized in the year 1919. Data collected for that year showed there were 100 murders to 1,000,000 of population in Chicago, as against 9 to 1,000,000 in Great Britain and 13 to 1,000,000 in Canada. This meant that during 1919 there were more murders in Chicago with a population of 3,000,000 than in the British Isles with a population of 40,000,000.
“For years in Great Britain and Canada, murder cases generally have been disposed with 60 or 90 days. In American cities there practically are no murder cases being tried within 90 days.
“April 1, 1920, 135 persons previously indicted for murder were awaiting trial in Chicago. In 104 cases the accused were at liberty on bond. The situation was brought to the attention of the courts and officials by the Crime Commission with the result that four Judges, then in the civil courts, volunteered to sit in the Criminal court and try cases until the murder docket was cleared. The trial of these cases resulted in sentencing of 12 to hang and 12 to the penitentiary for from one year to life.
Murder Rate Cut In Half
“The effect on the number of murders in Chicago was electrical. Immediately the murder rate there dropped 51 per cent, where it has since remained. The record for the first seven months of each of the last three years is as follows:
1919: 232
1920: 87
1921: 91

·         The Bourbon news. (Paris, Ky.), 13 Sept. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

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