Barbara Graham and the Politics of Executing Women in America
Author: Kathleen A. Cairns
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
Barbara Graham might have been a diabolical dame in a hard-boiled detective story--beautiful, sexy, and deadly. Charged alongside two male friends in the murder of an elderly widow during a botched robbery attempt, "Bloody Babs" became the third woman executed in California--after a 1953 trial that played out before standing-room-only crowds captured the imaginations of journalists, filmmakers, and death penalty opponents. Why, Kathleen A. Cairns asks, of all the capital cases in the twentieth century, did Graham's have such political resonance and staying power? Leaving aside the question of guilt or innocence--debated to this day--Cairns examines how Graham's case became a touchstone in the ongoing debate over capital punishment. While prosecutors positioned the accused woman as a femme fatale, the media came to offer a counternarrative for Graham's life highlighting her abusive and lonely beginnings. Cairns shows how Graham's case became crucial to the abolitionists of the time, who used instances of questionable guilt to raise awareness of the arbitrary and capricious nature of death penalty prosecutions. Critical in keeping capital punishment in the forefront of public consciousness until abolitionists homed in on a winning strategy, Graham's case illustrates the power of individual stories to shape wider perceptions and ultimately public policies.
Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History
Author: Steven Chermak Ph.D.
Category: True Crime
This multivolume resource is the most extensive reference of its kind, offering a comprehensive summary of the misdeeds, perpetrators, and victims involved in the most memorable crime events in American history. • Supports national standards curriculum • Offers an extensive selection of primary documents to encourage critical thinking and reading practice • Includes photos and illustrations to help bring content to life • Features sidebars with illuminating crime facts and interesting anecdotes
The Handbook of Incarceration in Popular Culture will be an essential reference point, providing international coverage and thematic richness. The chapters examine the real and imagined spaces of the prison and, perhaps more importantly, dwell in the uncertain space between them. The modern fixation with ‘seeing inside’ prison from the outside has prompted a proliferation of media visions of incarceration, from high-minded and worthy to voyeuristic and unrealistic. In this handbook, the editors bring together a huge breadth of disparate issues including women in prison, the view from ‘inside’, prisons as a source of entertainment, the real worlds of prison, and issues of race and gender. The handbook will inform students and lecturers of media, film, popular culture, gender, and cultural studies, as well as scholars of criminology and justice.
Pardon and Parole in New York from the Revolution to the Depression
Author: Carolyn Strange
Publisher: NYU Press
The pardon is an act of mercy, tied to the divine right of kings. Why did New York retain this mode of discretionary justice after the Revolution? And how did governors’ use of this prerogative change with the advent of the penitentiary and the introduction of parole? This book answers these questions by mining previously unexplored evidence held in official pardon registers, clemency files, prisoner aid association reports and parole records. This is the first book to analyze the histories of mercy and parole through the same lens, as related but distinct forms of discretionary decision-making. It draws on governors’ public papers and private correspondence to probe their approach to clemency, and it uses qualitative and quantitative methods to profile petitions for mercy, highlighting controversial cases that stirred public debate. Political pressure to render the use of discretion more certain and less personal grew stronger over the nineteenth century, peaking during constitutional conventionsand reaching its height in the Progressive Era. Yet, New York’s legislators left the power to pardon in the governor’s hands, where it remains today. Unlike previous works that portray parole as the successor to the pardon, this book shows that reliance upon and faith in discretion has proven remarkably resilient, even in the state that led the world toward penal modernity.
"This biography of Rose Elizabeth Bird is an overdue look at California's first female supreme court chief justice, against the backdrop of California's political and cultural climate in the 1970s and 1980s"--
Capital punishment for murder was abolished in Britain in 1965. At this time, the way people in Britain perceived and understood the death penalty had changed – it was an issue that had become increasingly controversial, high-profile and fraught with emotion. In order to understand why this was, it is necessary to examine how ordinary people learned about and experienced capital punishment. Drawing on primary research, this book explores the cultural life of the death penalty in Britain in the twentieth century, including an exploration of the role of the popular press and a discussion of portrayals of the death penalty in plays, novels and films. Popular protest against capital punishment and public responses to and understandings of capital cases are also discussed, particularly in relation to conceptualisations of justice. Miscarriages of justice were significant to capital punishment’s increasingly fraught nature in the mid twentieth-century and the book analyses the unsettling power of two such high profile miscarriages of justice. The final chapters consider the continuing relevance of capital punishment in Britain after abolition, including its symbolism and how people negotiate memories of the death penalty. Capital Punishment in Twentieth-Century Britain is groundbreaking in its attention to the death penalty and the effect it had on everyday life and it is the only text on this era to place public and popular discourses about, and reactions to, capital punishment at the centre of the analysis. Interdisciplinary in focus and methodology, it will appeal to historians, criminologists, sociologists and socio-legal scholars.
Women and Communism in Twentieth-Century California
Author: Beth Slutsky
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
In 1919 Charlotte Anita Whitney, a wealthy white woman, received one of the first Communist Labor Party membership cards for the charter group of the northern California Communist Labor Party. Less than a decade later in Berkeley, California, a Jewish woman named Dorothy Ray Healey became a card-carrying member of the Young Communist League. Nearly forty years later, in 1966, Kendra Claire Harris Alexander, a mixed-race woman, enlisted with the Los Angeles branch of the Communist Party, determined to promote class equality. In Gendering Radicalism, Beth Slutsky examines how American leftist radicalism was experienced through the lives of these three women who led the California branches of the Communist Party from its founding in 1919 to its near dissolution in 1992. Separately, each woman represents a generation of the membership and activism of the party. Collectively, Slutsky argues, their individual histories tell the story of one of the most infamous organizations this country has ever known and in a broader sense represent the story of all women who have devoted their lives to radicalism in America. Slutsky considers how gender politics, California's political climate, coalitions with other activist groups and local communities, and generational dynamics created a grassroots Communist movement distinct from the Communist parties in the Soviet Union and Europe. An ambitious comparative study, Gendering Radicalism demonstrates the continuity and changes of the party both within and among three generations of its female leaders' lives.
While settlers were drawn out West by the often empty promises of the Gold Rush, prostitution grew and flourished within the mining camps, small towns, and cities of nineteenth-century California. Whether escaping a bad home life, lured by false advertising, or seeking to subsidize their income, thousands of women chose or were forced to enter an industry where they faced segregation and persecution, fines and jailing, and battled the other hazards of their profession. Some dreamed of escape through marriage or retirement, and some became infamous and even successful, but more often found relief only in death. An integral part of western history, the stories of these women continue to fascinate readers and captivate the minds of historians today. Working girls and madams like Bodie's famous Rosa May and the gambler Madame Moustache remain notorious celebrities in the annals of history, and Collins also includes the stories of lesser-known women whose roles in this illicit trade help shape our understanding of the American West.
The history of the execution of women in the United States has largely been ignored and scholars have given scant attention to gender issues in capital punishment. This historical analysis examines the social, political and economic contexts in which the justice system has put women to death, revealing a pattern of patriarchal domination and female subordination. The book includes a discussion of condemned women granted executive clemency and judicial commutations, an inquiry into women falsely convicted in potentially capital cases and a profile of the current female death row population.