Box Butte County (Nebr.) jail record  1887-1966
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The jail record for Box Butte County begins in October 14, 1887 and concludes February 14, 1966. The ledger, maintained by the Sheriff, is divided into two parts: first, an incomplete alphabetical register of defendants, and secondly, a chronological record of prisoner's names, crimes, dates of residency, disposition, and financial accounting. The ledger records a variety of infractions, such as drunk and disorderly behavior, assault, adultery, rape, robbery, theft, forgery, gambling, destroying railroad property, and illegal train-riding. The early, less populated years seem to have been fairly free of crime, with only five partial pages devoted to the entire span from 1887 to 1901. The few crimes that were reported are generally very minor in nature.

During Prohibition, the preponderance of crime related to the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol (e.g. bootlegging, drunkenness, possession of still, and sale of liquor to Indians) With the advent of the automobile, the infractions include moving violations, such as speeding, driving without lights, driving without a license, reckless driving, "joy riding", driving while intoxicated, and auto theft (replacing horse-stealing). At lease two persons, one with Hispanic surname, were jailed for possession of marijuana (1948 and 1950). Given the paucity of data, it is difficult to identify any clear patterns of change in criminal behavior, however, during and after the Second World War, the number of offenders with Native American names appears to increase significantly, perhaps reflecting a trend toward integration into town life.

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