The Rise And Fall Of Prohibition

1677 words - 7 pages

Toni CarterDiscover New York 566Professor TurnerMay 4, 2014The rise and fall of prohibition"Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the problems it was intended to solve" (Thorton, 15). Prohibition was a time in the United States between 1920 and 1933 where the production, sale, transportation, and importation of intoxicating liquor were banned. Legislation, known as The Volstead Act, was enacted to help carry out the Eighteenth Amendment, which was Prohibition. This determined that intoxicating liquor was anything with alcohol content over 0.5 percent. This act also determined enforcement (Bowen, 154). With passing this law, society hoped that it would decrease crime, poverty, death rates, and improve the economy and the quality of life. The Eighteenth Amendment was poorly written and had many loopholes that helped citizens still consume and have alcoholic beverages without breaking any of the laws. The Eighteenth Amendment was unenforceable; when the law was passed it caused a higher crime rate and increased amounts of alcohol consumption. Bootleggers were importing alcohol from Canada and overseas, "Many people hid their liquor in hip flasks, false books, hollow canes, and anything else they could find" (Bowen, 159). Illegal Speakeasies were built to replace saloons at the start of the Prohibition. Speakeasies were establishments that illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era. "By 1925, there were over 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone" (Bowen, 160). When passing this law, the government thought that this would be an easy task. Prohibition was easier proclaimed than enforced. There were only 1550 federal agents and over 18,700 miles of "vast and virtually unpoliceable coastline". It was nearly impossible to stop liquor from being imported into the United States.The United States suffered from a high crime rate as a result of the Prohibition. The federal agents were not able to gain control of society. "The illegal liquor business fell under control of organized gangs, which overpowered most of the authorities" (Wenburn, 234). Bootleggers would bribe the authorities and federal agents. The lack of enforcement during the Prohibition Era and the increase of the illegal industries increased the crime rate. Major crimes, such as homicide, assault, and battery increased 13% while minor crimes, such as mischief and vagrancy decreased. During 1920 and 1921, the major crime rate increased 24%. "The crime rate increased because prohibition destroyed legal jobs, created black market violence, diverted resources from enforcement of other laws, and increased process people had to pay for prohibited goods" (Thorton, 10). Since the alcohol business was increasingly profitable many gangs became involved with the business. This crime became organized because gangs organize around steady sources of income. Since there was so much money involved with this, there were more rivals between gangs. This resulted in a...

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