In Cold Blood and Criminal Justice

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In Cold Blood and Criminal Justice

The criminal justice system plays a very important role in the novel In Cold Blood. When Dick Hickock and Perry Smith murdered the Clutter family many parts of the community were affected, but also played a role in their arrest. Many theories of crime can be examined in the text to try to explain why Dick and Perry committed such murder.

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In the novel, the reader sees the different levels of police it took to track down these two men. When Dick and Perry got arrested the justice system played a big role in their trial and sentence as well.

The murder Dick and Perry committed was very hard to trace for authorities. The murders left no finger prints, no witnesses, and no shotgun shells. Not only did Dick and Perry leave no evidence, there also was no true motive behind the crime. This is definitely an oddity considering the setting and victims of the murder. Crimes with no motive are often a huge problem in our society. It is hard for police and authorities to come up with a suspect when there was no reason for someone to hate the victim, like the Clutter family. Their family was considered as very respectful, giving, and peaceful in the small town of Holcomb. Dick and Perry even themselves thought Mr. Clutter was a good man. Perry confesses, I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman.

I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat.(Capote 244) This proves that there was no true reason for Perry and Dick to murder such an innocent family for nothing but a radio, few dollars in cash, and binoculars. The quote also proves the true insanity and mental illness of both murders. Dick is a very mentally unstable person and acts very impulsive. Dick seems to have no ability in his brain to think about the consequences of his actions. This leads Dick into breaking the law. Dick will do anything to satisfy his money hunger. He passed bad checks, robs people that pick him up as a hitch-hiker, and even killed the Clutter family.

Money and impulse are two reasons why Dick committed the crime. He is quoted saying, I know it is wrong. But at the same time I never give any thought to whether it is right or wrong. The same with stealing. It seems to be an impulse. (Capote 176) However, Perry was deeply affected by his childhood and past life. He seems to be mentally ill with Schizophrenia and struggles with the sensation he gets between sanity and violence.

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