Justice Seen, Justice Done? Abolishing Public Executions in 19th-Century Germany

Richard Evans looks at the social and intellectual pressures that forced Germany to rethink how and why it punished wrongdoers.

One of the most striking changes in the nature of penal policy in nineteenth-century Europe was the abolition of public executions in many major states. Even where this did not formally take place, as in France, public participation was severely curtailed by a series of reforms carried out at roughly the same time as the removal of executions behind prison walls elsewhere.

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