Montana Justice Power, Punishment, and the Penitentiary

ISBN-10: 0295984430
ISBN-13: 9780295984438
Edition: 2004
Authors: Keith Edgerton
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Description: During Montana's early territorial years, "criminal justice" was almost nonexistent: a few towns had inadequate and chronically overcrowded jails; occasional prisoners were sent east to the federal penitentiary in Detroit; and vigilantes summarily  More...

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Book details

List price: $22.50
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 200
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

During Montana's early territorial years, "criminal justice" was almost nonexistent: a few towns had inadequate and chronically overcrowded jails; occasional prisoners were sent east to the federal penitentiary in Detroit; and vigilantes summarily dealt with others suspected of crimes. In 1871, the federal government funded a penitentiary in Deer Lodge and later turned over to Montana when it achieved statehood in 1889. In this absorbing book, Keith Edgerton provides a social history of the Montana Penitentiary, with a primary focus on its early, formative years. After statehood, Montana leased its penitentiary to contractors, who utilized cheap inmate labor to turn a profit for themselves and for the state. The warden of the institution soon became a regional political boss and entered a relationship with other area politicians and capitalists, using inmates for a variety of public works endeavors. Eventually, however, his corruption led to his ouster by a progressive governor, Joseph M. Dixon, and sparked a subsequent trial and heated political controversy that led in large part to Dixon's ultimate political downfall. After 1921 the prison system came under full control of the state government. Although there were changes at the penitentiary during the rest of the twentieth century-and two full-scale riots in the 1950s-there was also a depressing repetition of corruption, neglect, and underfunding. Montana Justice is based on a wealth of research, especially in primary sources; Edgerton notes, "Prisons are treasure troves of information, whose administrators generate and preserve an enormous amount of detailed written documentation about their residents."

Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Majesty of the Law: Vigilantism and Western Prisons
Penitentiary on a Shoestring
"The Accursed Thing": The Territorial Penitentiary
No Warden More Efficient: Frank Conley
Getting Tough on Crime: 1921 to the Present
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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