The book is divided into four sections: crime scenes, police action, punishment, and executions. It is concentrated between 1890 and 1950, a time when criminals often admitted their crimes and were quickly punished. Until the late 1940s, the period from arrest to execution for a capital offense averaged 33 days. The change in police attitudes and of the punishment prescribed for criminal behavior is documented here in iconic photographs.
Unlike many previous works on the subject, this compilation of crime scenes gives readers a forensic view, offering entire series of images used by detectives and criminologists. Other photographs reveal the evolving standards of the American criminal justice system, from water torture at Sing Sing prison, whipping posts, penitentiary life, and the notorious deadly work camps of the South, to executions: hanging, firing squads, and the electric chair. Only when all the evidence is presented can justice and humanity be properly served.
This compilation of images, most published here for the first time, is a valuable new resource for historians and researchers.