Week 3 CRJU 8350- Johnathan Sharp

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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.

Two specific crimes that occurred with some frequency during the American Revolutionary Period were smuggling and seditious libel (Jones & Johnstone, 2011). Smuggling was a constant concern for British law enforcement officials as they were expected to carry out British laws in the American colonies, an ocean’s distance away from where these laws stemmed from. One of the main reasons why smuggling was a major crime during this time period was the British government viewed it as a way to avoid taxation and was a form of serious/dangerous rebellion (Stashower, 2015). British authorities wanted control over all colonial trade and even made it illegal to commence commerce with non-English colonies and even the whole of Europe without first going through British ports (Jones & Johnstone, 2011). Smuggling was considered a felony thus a capital offense and punishable by death. With the constant imposing of new taxes, smuggling became a means to both profit and also bring in goods without the unnecessary taxation imposed by British authorities.

Seditious libel was another Revolutionary Period crime that ultimately led us to freedom of the press. Jones and Johnstone (2011) mentioned the case brought forth against John Peter Zenger, a New York printer, who published a critique against then Governor William Cosby and his legal actions seeking payment of his salary albeit his absence during the time of the disputed salary. Seditious libel consisted at the time of critical speech against either the government or, government officials (Mayton, 1984). At the time, punishments could include imprisonment, fines, and costs of litigation (Mayton, 1984).

Explain one social and one political influence these crimes and punishments had on the current U.S. criminal justice system:

One social influence smuggling/piracy had on the current U.S. criminal justice system is the response by law enforcement as this is something that still occurs today. Jones and Johnstone (2011) mentioned piracy off of the north coast of Africa. Today, the smuggling encountered by U.S. law enforcement includes illicit drugs, counterfeit goods, and even the smuggling of human beings through human trafficking. Musto (2009) stated modern day smuggling includes the movement of persons for the purpose of sex slaves and forced prostitution. Political response to this crime includes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and then its subsequent reauthorization in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013 (Musto, 2009). The TVPA gives us federal legislation that allows for the prosecution of traffickers, protective rights and resources to victims, and methods to prevent this form of trafficking. Smuggling has evolved over the years in methods and also in what is being smuggled. These actions allow individuals a means to avoid taxes, tariffs, and even laws to provide certain goods or amenities in areas that otherwise forbid or restrict them.

Current social and political influence on seditious libel are numerous. Obvious influence on this includes legal precedent set forth by numerous cases related to First Amendment rights. The social and political influenced on this crime has shifted and are no longer separated entities as the social influences seem to push the political ones and vice versa. Krotoszynski and Carpenter (2007) give examples of where individuals want to demonstrate and disseminate political views and potential libel opinions and how these are now restricted by permits, regulations, and confined to only very specific areas. If one were to demonstrate or disseminate those same views outside of the permitted areas then one would be subject to arrest for a number of possible offenses. Of interest to this topic Krotoszynski and Carpenter (2007) further that if a city wants to silence certain political speeches or demonstrations they may do so, albeit this includes silencing everyone. We can see the flip side of this also where we will have protestors and counter-protestors at the same site (if we allow one, we have to allow both). The current social and political views on this area are very mixed depending on which side of the aisle you ask with claims of “false news” and conspiracies all around.


Jones, M., & Johnstone, P. (2011). History of criminal justice (5th ed.) New York, NY. Routledge.

Krotoszynski Jr, R. J., & Carpenter, C. A. (2007). The return of seditious libel. UCLA L. Rev., 55, 1239.

Mayton, W. T. (1984). Seditious libel and the lost guarantee of a freedom of expression. Columbia Law Review, 84(1), 91-142.

Musto, J. L. (2009, July). What’s in a name?: Conflations and contradictions in contemporary US discourses of human trafficking. In Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 281-287).

Stashower, D. (2015, August 21). Is smuggling treason or an American founding principle?. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com.

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