Crime and Punishment in the Victorian England.
Crime is an act or omission forbidden by law and punishable upon conviction. This includes public offenses often classified as treason, felony, and misdemeanor. And, punishment is an act of punishing. To punish somebody is to afflict somebody with pain, loss, or suffering. The nineteenth century was the pivotal period of change in England in the treatment of criminals. In that period, public opinion began to turn against the barbaric severity of hanging laws. One slight indication of the change in the peoples" attitude was that public execution failed as an attraction of the fashionable throng. Hangings were left for the pleasure of the low drunken mob.
In the early nineteenth century, more than 200 capital crimes were recognized. As a result, 1000 or more persons were sentenced to death each year. The death penalty was commonly authorized for a wide variety of crimes. During the reign of George III, more capital offences were placed on the Statue Book than under all the other kings and queens together. Stealing goods worth 40 shillings was still grand larceny punishable by death. Children were still hanged for these offences. A girl of seven was hanged in Lynn for setting fire to a house. In 1801, 13-year-old Andrew Banning was executed for breaking into a house and stealing a spoon.
Efforts to abolish the death penalty did not gather momentum until the commencement of reform movement. In London, in 1829, only 24 hangings for offences other than murder took place. Nearly 3,000 people were committed for the capital crimes of house breaking and burglary in a single year, but only eight were hanged. Out of 1,601 persons who were sentenced to death in 1831, only 52, including 12 murderers, were hanged. England repealed most of the death penalty but a few of its capital statues. Where the complete abolition could not be achieved, reformers concentrated on limiting the scope and mitigating the harshness of the death penalty.