Response to DQ2

Respond and offer different social and political influences than your colleagues. Or, provide an alternative perspective on how they influence the current U.S. criminal justice system.


For the “Main Question Post” in this week’s discussion, during the Revolutionary Period from 1718 to 1797 two crimes and their respective punishments that stood out to this student was the crime of being poor (debtor) and disturbing the peace (rioting and mob violence) in the revolutionary era. During the “Revolutionary Period” being a debtor or being poor was a crime. In the eighteenth century, debtors were regularly jailed because of not being able to pay their creditors and remain there until they could do so. Debtors were permitted to leave their cells during the day in order to work or solicit money from people on the streets while they are released and the debtors had to return to jail after doing so to spend the remainder of their evening hours. This was done as the way in which the indigent or debtor could mitigate his debt (Roth, 2011, p.87).

 The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals would be imprisoned or jailed only when the individual refuses to pay and not when the individual is unable to pay. In theory, this acts as a safeguard to protect the indigent or impoverished individuals being imprisoned for not paying back debt.  However, the social and one political influence the crime and punishments of being a debtor had on the current U.S. criminal justice is that it is fair to send debtors to jail. Today there are two types of debt that sent people to jail for non-payment private debt (payday loans, unpaid medical bills, and cash advances), which may lead to involvement in the criminal justice system, and criminal justice debt(traffic ticket, testing fees, and court costs) accrued through involvement in the criminal justice system (HAGER, 2016).

 In the revolutionary era, the crime of disturbing the peace (rioting and mob violence) was anyone who threatened to upset the traditional social order. “Citizens formed bands of regulators and vigilante organizations in attempts to suppress disorder. On other occasions, sheriff’s possess or the militia could be called in” (Roth, 2011, p.92). This crime was punishable by hanging tethered individuals to a whipping post to be lynched, pillory and placed in the stocks. The social influence rioting and mob violence have had in the current criminal justice system are that an individual is acting disorderly and irritated while in a group of people he or she can get the arrested for inciting the crowd. One political influence this crimes and punishments had on the current U.S. criminal justice system can be seen in the first amendment in the right of the people to petition peaceably to assemble.  Having the ability to gather together in a collective group with others is one of the core fundamentals of a democracy. While rioting and mob have had a violence past it also lead way giving individual rights so long as the mob gathers in a lawful manner and for a purpose.


Roth, M. P. (2011). Crime and punishment: A history of the criminal justice system (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

HAGER, E. (2016). Debtors’ Prisons, Then and Now: FAQ. The Marshall Project. Retrieved 15 June 2016, from


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