Criminal Records Podcast

Criminal Records Podcast

Criminal Records Podcast is a history show exploring the weird history of crime and punishment, from the earliest recorded murder case to the origins of laws that are in effect today. Join hosts Isaac Meyer and Demetria Spinrad on a wild journey through criminal justice systems all over the world. You can listen to our episodes in any order, but we recommend starting with our most recent cases and working your way back through our catalogue. We’ve learned a lot about audio editing and structuring hour-long episodes since we first started in 2018!

Episodes

June 6, 2024 61 mins

In a country where gay sex is illegal, is a magazine for gay people a publication for criminals? Is the content obscene, even if there's no sexual content on the page, just because sex might be suggested somewhere off the page or in the pages of an entirely different publication? And most importantly, can you put this magazine in the mail?

Sources and show notes at this link

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Hello listeners! Isaac is entering final paper grading/rec letter writing season on top of planning an international exchange school trip for some of his students in May. I've also got plans to visit family on the east coast this month. 

Instead of rushing out episodes to cover the time we'll be too busy to record, we decided to hit pause on Criminal Records Podcast for a month. If you're a patron, we've paused billing for the mont...

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April 18, 2024 69 mins

If the obscene material you're distributing is so avant-garde that most readers can't tell it's actually obscene, did you commit a crime or not? This week, we're getting into the trial of the scandalous literary magazine editors who brought the work of James Joyce to America.

Sources and show notes at this link

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April 4, 2024 59 mins

Not all scam artists prey on suckers’ desire to get rich quick or cheat the system. Some of them prey on their marks’ better impulses, like their love for their pet dogs or their willingness to help a stranger in an emergency.

Content note: This episode contains discussion of animal cruelty and inhumane and misguided medical practices. It contains some outdated language about epilepsy.

Sources and show notes at this link

Support th...

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March 21, 2024 73 mins

With options for getting rid of its convicts drying up, Britain started thinking about reforming both its prisons and the prisoners inside them. The intention behind these prison reforms was great. But attempts to create a better prison system involved wild philosophy experiments in real life, a lot of Bibles, a lot of time to think in silence, and... treadmills?

Sources and show notes at this link

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March 7, 2024 69 mins
Is abortion legal in Japan? No, but also yes. Join us on a journey through history to learn about how modern abortion law developed in a legal system that didn't trea...
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February 22, 2024 61 mins

We're out of the country for a family memorial service and didn't have time to record a Criminal Records episode for the week. But that doesn't mean we're out of crime content! This week, we've cleaned up and cut together some of Isaac's very, very old History of Japan audio to bring you the history of Japanese organized crime.

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February 8, 2024 63 mins

Under Britain's most notorious era of criminal law, you could be sentenced to death for everything from destroying a fishpond to being a particularly malicious 7-year-old. But how many criminals actually died thanks to this wave of harsh legislation? Getting the answer requires a deep dive into the very weird world of crime and punishment in the industrializing United Kingdom.

Content note: This episode is about capital punishment ...

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January 25, 2024 70 mins

The law was out to take Emma Goldman down on a range of charges from distributing obscene material to assassination to sedition. But did the woman the papers called the Queen of Anarchy deserve her lengthy rap sheet?

Sources and show notes (with some excellent political cartoons) at this link

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January 11, 2024 63 mins

Something seemed a little less than ideal about governments and economies around the world in the late 1880s. One woman's solution? Anarchy.

Sources and show notes at this link

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December 28, 2023 29 mins

Thanks to Demetria's brilliant decision to get as many vaccines as possible on the same day, there's no new episode this week. Instead, we're releasing a bonus episode from our Patreon archives about one of our all-time favorite works of historical fiction. We'll be back on our regular posting schedule in 2024!

Content warning: Babylon Berlin is set in the Weimar Republic and contains some admirably frank depictions of the rise of ...

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December 14, 2023 70 mins

On one side, a crooked saloon owner with a side business running brothels and opium dens. On the other side, a moralistic tycoon with rail car full of beautiful vegetables. Which one of them did more damage to a frontier town in Montana?

Sources and show notes at this link

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December 1, 2023 74 mins

Want to crown yourself the king of Germany? Want to conquer Europe because you have really strong opinions about public transit? Want to get rich quick selling fake government ID cards? With this one completely nonsense legal strategy, you too can claim the government of Germany isn't real and join the ranks of some very iffy far-right extremists.

Sources and show notes

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November 16, 2023 59 mins

To crown the monarch of the United Kingdom, you need a 336-pound block of sandstone. But who really owns that big chunk of stone, and who was the thief who stole it from its rightful place?

Sources and show notes at this link

Support the show and find our bonus episode about Braveheart on Patreon

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November 2, 2023 59 mins

If you're going to accuse a gang of spirit mediums of practicing a banned religion on the down low, you have to prove they're actually members of that religion. But what if your only understanding of how this religious group worships comes from stories about outrageous magical villains?

Sources and show notes at this link

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October 19, 2023 58 mins

A group of spirit mediums found a way to use their psychic prowess to get rich in the physical realm. But when an investigator started looking into a suspiciously successful prosperity scheme, he uncovered a case of divine fraud.

Sources and show notes at this link

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October 5, 2023 65 mins

Let's dive into the dangerous, divine, and occasionally kinky history of trying to figure out who's telling the truth.

Sources and show notes at this link

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September 21, 2023 68 mins

In the second part of our story, the Baron of Arizona has to create a Baroness so he can rise to great heights in Europe and use his connections to keep swindling in America. But while the upper crust in the old country buy into his wild story, Americans are starting to unravel his fraud.

Sources and show notes at this link

Support the show on Patreon

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September 7, 2023 54 mins

James Reavis was a failed real estate investor, but he had a knack for document forgery. And if you lose all the land you own legally, why not acquire some more with the help of a few doctored papers?

Sources and show notes at this link

Support the show on Patreon

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August 24, 2023 61 mins

A North Korean plot to sabotage the Olympics and possibly derail a crucial South Korean election hinged on a pair of very unusual spies. When one of the bombers survived after swallowing a cyanide capsule, she told investigators her whole world was a lie.

Content note: This episode concerns a terrorist attack, a plane crash, mass murder, and a death by poisoning. It also contains discussions of police brutality and torture.

Sources...

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