Crime and Scandal

Alfred Kinsey in 1948 Uncovers Sex In New England

In 1948, Alfred Kinsey shocked the world with his research into sex: who was doing what, with whom and how often were not topics of polite conversation. But the zoologist researcher also placed the spotlight on the laws, pointing out that there was no consistency throughout the states. Activities that weren’t even illegal in Vermont could land you in jail for 30 years in Connecticut.

alfred kinseyIn analyzing the laws regarding sexual behavior. Kinsey looked at four categories. Adultery, sex between two people, at least one of whom is married to someone else. Fornication, sex involving unmarried partners. Seduction, inducing someone to have sex with a promise of marriage. Sodomy, a catch all of forbidden activities but most often used against homosexual activities.

So for all their prudish reputation, how did the New England states penalties stack up?

Adultery
State Conn. Maine Mass. NH RI Vermont Toughest state Most lenient state
Penalty 5 years imprisonment $1000 fine and/or five years imprisonment $500 fine or 2-3 years imprisonment $500 fine and one year imprisonment or 3 years imprisonment $500 fine or one year imprisonment $1000 fine or 5 years imprisonment Connecticut, Oklahoma and Vermont – potential for five years imprisonment No crime in Nevada, Louisiana, Tennessee, and New Mexico

 

Fornication
State Conn. Maine Mass. NH RI Vermont Toughest state Most lenient state
Penalty $100 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment $100 fine and 60-days imprisonment. Cohabitation - $300 or 5 years imprisonment $30 fine or 3 months imprisonment Cohabitation - $300 fine or 3 years imprisonment $50 fine or 6 months imprisonment $10 fine No crime Maine and Oregon – potential for five years imprisonment No crime in Arizona, California, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington

 

Seduction
State Conn. Maine Mass. NH RI Vermont Toughest state Most lenient state
Penalty $1000 fine or 5 years imprisonment No crime $1000 fine and/or 2 ½ to 3 years imprisonment No crime 5 years imprisonment No crime Georgia – up to 20 years imprisonment Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia

 

Sodomy
State Conn. Maine Mass. NH RI Vermont Toughest state Most lenient state
Penalty 30 years imprisonment 1-10 years imprisonment 20 years imprisonment No crime 7-20 years imprisonment No crime Colorado and Nevada – up to life imprisonment No crime in New Hampshire, Vermont and District of Columbia

 

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  1. Pingback:  The Great Connecticut Polygamy Crisis of 1903 - New England Historical Society

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