A Brief History of the American Felony Murder Rule

THE PENNSYLVANIA MURDER GRADING STATUTE

After our American Independence a number of the new states began legislative reforms to codify the crime of murder. One of the earliest states to do so was Pennsylvania. In 1794, that state enacted a murder degree statute which divided murder into first degree capital murder and second degree murder. The Pennsylvania legislature constricted the penalty for felony murder by imposing capital punishment only for such felonies as occurred in the perpetration of arson, rape, robbery or burglary. The statute further provided that all murder in the state other than ones committed in the perpetration of one of the common law felonies specified in their degree statute was to be second degree murder.

Later the felony of kidnapping was added to the list of specified felonies for purposes of felony murder. Only first degree murder served as a basis for hanging. The Pennsylvania statute did not actually formulate a felony murder rule or define the elements of murder. Instead the statute identified participation in certain felonies as a grading element that aggravated murder liability. The statute prescribed that:

All murder, which shall be perpetrated by means of poison, or by laying in wait, or by any other kind of wilful, deliberate and premeditated killing, or which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate any arson, rape, robbery, or burglary, shall be deemed murder in the first degree; and all other kinds of murder shall be murder in the second degree.

The implication of the statute is that murder in the course of one of the enumerated felonies did not require wilful, deliberate, and premeditated killing. The language of the statute does not suggest that the mere causing of death in the course of any felony was always murder. This idea is much more in line of what Lord Hale was proposing in his writings at the end of the seventeenth century and is similar to Judge Stephen’s jury instruction in the Serne case: that it would be murder only if the felonious act was known to be dangerous to life and likely to cause death. The word “deemed” in the statute implies the notion that a judge or jury could weigh the facts of the case and decide whether the conduct of an accused warranted a charge of murder for which the accused could be hanged.

The Pennsylvania statute was enormously influential, shaping homicide reform statutes in two thirds of the then existing states during the nineteenth century. Twelve states adopted Pennsylvania’s grading scheme with little or no modification, the states which adopted the Pennsylvania statute as drafted were: Virginia in 1796, Kentucky from 1798 to 1801, Maryland in 1810, Louisiana from its admission in1812 to 1855, Tennessee in 1829, Michigan in 1838, Arkansas in 1838, New Hampshire in 1842, Connecticut in 1846, Delaware in 1852, Massachusetts in 1858, and West Virginia, entering the Union with such a statute in 1863.

Another nineteen states adopted a somewhat modified grading scheme. The States …

Impact of Baby Boomers on American Society

Demographers’ defined the baby boom as a birth surge started in 1946, after the World War II and reached its peak in 1957 and continued until 1964 because of the postwar prosperity. Most people uses “generation” as their term but demographers precisely referred it as “cohort” (group of individuals experiencing a certain event within a specified time). This reveals that social changes interconnect with the life of every baby boomer.

There two groups of baby boomers. The babies born from 1946 to 1955 were called early boomers. Those who were born from 1956 to 1964 were called as late boomers. The last set were born during the first tour of Beatles in America and the first early ones was approximately 18 years that time. They are were noticeable because of their big populations. They crowded junior high, elementary schools, high schools, labor market, and colleges.

Studies show that the impacts brought about by the society where baby boomers grew up contributes a lot in reshaping the society. They never think like their parents. Because the population of these cohorts is unprecedented during the 20th century, their beliefs and behaviors are then predicted to dominate things.

But there is also a great discrepancy in terms of economic status between early and late boomers. Compared to the energetic job market and emerging economy laid beneath the feet of early ones, late boomers needs adjustment on economic shifts. It is due to the rapid growth of service sectors, jobs for middle class became less stable, changing locations of workers, and career market adjustments.

Most are considered economic security as an elusive thing. They are the people who were born after the era of civil rights. Conducted studies even reveals income differences according to ethnicity, race, and birthplace creating ethnic classes. It was because one third of the population are Hispanic, African-American, or Asian besides the black and white Americans. Take for instance, the black boomer’s generation are considered inferior than whites, although the generation were rated the best in terms of education.

It is a fact that the life was accompanied by postwar transformations changing the American society. The ideas about sexuality, gender, and family were altered profoundly. Likewise, parenthood changed, old age and retirement was redefined, and labor forces were transformed. Even in their old age, they seize opportunity to stay involved and active like staying in their work force to meet the responsibilities of supporting their children.

The changes in the society were never brought solely by the stereotype but also the conservative types like Seth Grossman. They expressed themselves through street protests while the conservative use other forms such as leaflets, student newspapers, and forums. Although their actions did not attract the attention of media but they achieved their success when they forced a referendum which resulted in the withdrawal of Duke students from the National Student Association.

Conservative may not be a part of the projected boomer’s image but they became a strong force in making their way silently. …