Commit a crime and the world is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole.
~Emerson, “Compensation,” Essays
I selected the name for this website based on one of the earliest — if not the earliest — true crime publications in the English language: The Newgate Calendar or The Malefactor’s Bloody Register which was first published in 1760.
A fortress built at one of the key entry points in the wall surrounding old London, Newgate was built during the reign of Henry I, used as a prison from at least 1188, and used for both civil debtors and criminals until 1815. Thereafter, it was used for criminals only. It was finally destroyed in 1902, during the construction of the Central Criminal Courts building commonly known as “Old Bailey.”
The Calendar contained accounts of some of the most notorious criminals in England and was, in addition to being one of the first true crime publications, a best-selling “non-fiction” work. It told the stories in a moralistic tone, which allowed its readers to enjoy the guilty pleasure of lurid crime stories while justifying doing so because of the lessons the tales contained. Further, the Calendar served as the inspiration for some of English Literature’s great classics.
It prompted many copies and competitors, and helped create a market for pulp fiction and newspapers in general, even helping greatly to advance printing techniques by adding woodcut illustrations — one of the first publications to do so.
In honor of the original, I selected the name for this site, but dropped the “bloody” to give my blog at least the semblance of dignity. I did retain the awkward apostrophe, though.
The photo used in my logo is of prisoners walking in “lockstep,” which was part of an early theory of penology known as the “Auburn Method” after the prison built in Auburn, New York in 1821.
Sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville described the Auburn Method: “…complete silence … isolates the prisoners from one another, and the continual work … occupies their physical and moral faculties. How is a sufficient degree of silence and work obtained? By the power of inflicting corporal punishment given arbitrarily to all the guards.”
The Cuyahoga County Historian gives a little more detail about this theory of rehabilitation that was scrapped after inmates started going mad.
“Prior to the reformation work of T.M. Osborne, the prisoners were required to walk in lockstep, to work in local factories, and were not allowed to speak to each other without permission. Talking was the most common inmate violation of the rules and the resulting punishment was severe.”
About the Author
From the time that I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a writer, and have been fascinated by crime and criminals all of my life. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, also from MSU.
I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor and as a lobbyist for a newspaper trade association before going to work for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Today I have been given the gift of being able to finally pursue my dream of a freelance writing career in beautiful L.A. (lower Alabama, that is).
Professionally, I have published articles in The Journal of the Ohio Bar Association, the National Law Journal and other legal publications. I have had the privilege of appearing on several television shows about crime, both organized and individual, which resulted in my getting my own IMDB page (How cool is that?).
Many of my crime articles appear on the late, lamented CourtTV’s Crime Library website.
In 2010 I wrote The Professor and the Coed, which is published by the History Press and available online.
I dedicate this site to the victims of crime everywhere, to the people who catch the malefactors, and those who protect the rest of us from them. By writing about crime and criminals I do not intend to glorify the bad guys or use the victims’ pains for salacious reasons. I always wondered if monsters were real. Now I know.
This website represents my personal views and writing. I welcome and encourage your comments and suggestions. Email is always welcome. Spam is not. I’ll try to reply to any questions visitors might have. On this site I am a selfish but just god. I leave critical comments, but I don’t review books or allow guest columns.
This is a one-man show and I’m a bad copy editor. Please excuse the occasional misspelling, bad grammar or incoherent argument. Also, the articles here are always works in progress, on occasion I will make updates and rewrites as I see fit. Corrections are welcome provided they can be verified.
I don’t know nothin’ about nobody. I’m just minding my own business.
Mark C. Gribben