Nineteenth-century Kentuckians responded paradoxically to their criminal justice system. Although they complained constantly about the inadequacies of their constabulary, they refused to appropriate funds necessary to establish more efficient police forces. And while they carped continually about the ineffectiveness and ineptitude of prosecutors, the slowness and timidity of judges, the permissiveness of juries, and the leniency of governors, they also expressed equal concern about the rights of the accused and the convicted. By their ambivalence, nineteenth-century Kentuckians reflected an internal conflict that historically has characterized the response of Americans to the problem of crime. A free and dynamic society inevitably spawns crime. In their efforts to control antisocial behavior, freedom-loving people dare not be too effective for fear of eliminating the liberty that helped produce the problem. This Gordian Knot of nineteenth-century Kentucky is the enduring dilemma of America.
Robert M. Ireland,
Law and Disorder in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky,
32 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol32/iss1/8