Criminal Justice: The Meaning of Conspiracy

Murder, rape and bribery are all crimes that everyone understands; what is meant by conspiracy is less obvious. 'Lately, this age-old crime has become one that district attorneys find themselves prosecuting in a variety of important cases. Conspiracy charges have helped convict such diverse defendants as Billie Sol Estes, the accused killers of the three Mississippi civil rights workers, and price-fixing General Electric executives.

Last week conspiracy was again in the news—as Dr. Benjamin Spock, Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffin and three others stood indicted for conspiring to violate the Selective Service...