2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Justice Systems in the American West
James E. McDonald
Dr. David Robinson, Faculty Mentor

Despite extensive research on both justice systems and the history of the American West, there is a lack of study where these two subjects converge. A comprehensive look at justice systems there from 1850 to 1900 reveals a lot about the development of law in a frontier society. The predecessors of current governmental modes of enforcement, courts, and corrections existed during this period, but their weaknesses and failures also prompted the emergence of unofficial justice systems: through vigilantes, bounties, and extra-legal hangings, order was maintained on the Western frontier. In light of this history of justice systems in the West, some cultural representations of it in popular movies and novels falter, while others prove to be realistic.

Keywords: Justice Systems, American West, law enforcement, vigilantes, Law and order, Frontier society, Western History, Western film


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 7-2
Location: OP 2111
Time: 8:30

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