Periods of famine would seem to entail not only increased criminal activity but also a greater range of people willing to commit crimes to avoid starvation. Transportation data from Ireland during the Great Famine of the 1840s confirms an increase in criminal activity, revealing that the locus of crime shifted significantly toward the areas most seriously affected by famine conditions. The characteristics of the criminals, however, did not change dramatically. Young men continued to be the main perpetrators, as they had been before the Famine, although those convicted during the Famine often received lighter sentences.
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© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.