Society and the Law.
Law, courts, and lawyers played increasing roles in the central social and political conflicts of the 1970s. Concerns about rising crime rates, the rights of the accused, and the death penalty were key social issues. Growing prison populations and prison riots raised difficult questions about prison conditions and the use of stricter sentencing to respond to rising crime rates. Debates about school busing and school desegregation were carried on in courtrooms and in the streets. The Supreme Court established a woman's right to abortion and changed the course of national politics. Legal disputes over the president's executive privilege and custody of the White House tapes played a pivotal role in the Watergate crisis. And environmental groups and business firms fought out the battles of environmental policy in courtrooms across the country.
Crime in the 1970s.
Public concern about crime remained high, constantly near the top of the list of the most important issues. Crime statistics showed increased rates in the early 1970s, a leveling off during the middle years, and an increase again at the end of the decade. In the major cities crime declined somewhat, particularly crimes against property. In smaller cities and towns it rose slightly. Despite variability in different areas, people's fears seemed to increase across...
(The entire section is 1138 words.)
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