Submission Date


Document Type





Diane Amoroso-O'Connor

Committee Member

Dr. Joyce Lionarons

Committee Member

Dr. Nathan Rein

Department Chair

Dr. Nathan Rein

External Reviewer

Dr. Ari Bryen

Distinguished Honors

This paper has met the requirements of Distinguished Honors

Project Description

Of the many advances made by the ancient Romans, perhaps their greatest contribution to contemporary Western society stemmed from their sophisticated legal system. Ancient senators, jurists, and eventually emperors set forth policies that encompassed the expectations of Roman citizens in respect to property, family, and behavior. Roman law allowed for the creation of an efficient government bureaucracy, promoting an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity that stretched over the first two centuries of the Common Era. This peace, however, did not apply to all individuals under control of the Roman government. While wealthy and dignified citizens enjoyed leniency in legal matters, individuals of lesser status faced discrimination at the hands of prejudiced police forces and judges. Based on recent events in contemporary American society, a systematic bias against those of lower class exists also in modern police forces and courtrooms. This prejudiced structure promotes not only classist discrimination, but also racial discrimination as those of lower income tend to be people of color. In addition to highlighting the legal inequity that existed in ancient Rome, this study calls attention to the comparable schemes of prejudice, particularly concerning the War on Drugs, which plague law enforcement in contemporary American society.