The Crime and the Time — A History of Delaware’s Criminal Justice System Subject of Talk at Georgetown Historical Society


The whipping post at the old jail in New Castle. Photo courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives.

The Georgetown Historical Society is hosting a Delaware Humanities Forum talk that I will do on Jan. 7th, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at the Marvel Carriage Museum in Georgetown.

This lecture offers an intriguing look at the evolution of crime, punishment, and police work in Delaware from the colonial era to the mid-twentieth century. The fast-paced program examines old county jails, headline-grabbing criminal escapades of long ago, discontinued methods of punishment, and unheralded peace officers.

The Georgetown group has a particular interest in Delaware’s whipping post, so we will spend some time examining that subject. The state criminal code permitted floggings to occur until 1972.  That year Governor Russell W. Peterson signed into law a revised criminal code in Delaware, which abolished the outdated punishment.  Flogging was last used in 1952 in the first-state, when a wife beater was chained to the post and whipped.

The goal of the program is to look at how crime and policing methods have changed by using  any little-known stories of this often unexplored aspect of history.

The museum is located at 510 South Bedford Street in Georgetown.

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