Arizona’s territorial era has the reputation of being a violent and crime-ridden place with ineffective criminal justice institutions. This presentation provides an overview of crime and justice in Arizona Territory. Based on data from court cases and newspapers, it describes the types of crimes most commonly committed and the justice system’s response to them. Contrary to popular perception, crime was not particularly violent, nor was crime itself a particular problem. Moreover, Arizona Territory’s justice system was relatively effective compared to other areas of the country.
Paul Hietter currently serves as a history professor and the chair of the Social Sciences Department at Mesa Community College. He received his Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University and has published a number of articles and book reviews on his area of specialization, crime and criminal justice in frontier Arizona and the West. Hietter has been a member of the Arizona Humanities Speakers Bureau for more than 10 years and is excited to continue sharing his knowledge and passion with Arizonans statewide.