The Effect of Prohibition on Organized Crime

During this prohibition of 1920 in United States, all activities contributing to the sales of alcohol were illegal. Such activities included import and export of raw materials and the final products, as well as the initial production and the transportation of alcohol. This action of prohibition came because of realized rate of crimes and corruption among the top people, high levels of social conflicts, and increased taxes.

The tax rate was too high although there was need for the government to collect money for supporting prisons, reconstructing poor houses, and to concentrate on the high risk areas where health and hygiene were at stake (Goldberg 214). As much as the government was in effort of prohibition, the consumption of alcohol became relatively high resulting to organized crimes. The high level of organized crimes, made the court and the prisons working system overworked making the police and the public officials to practice corruption. The effect of alcohol prohibition act gave the Mafia group an opportunity of exercising their criminal acts. This is a big group of organized criminals from various ethnic groups. They operate in various nations including the United States and Canada. They deal with all illegal acts like drug and weapon smuggling, murder, and frauds among other disgusting activities (Thornton 114). During this period of alcohol prohibition there were widely involved in smuggling alcoholic drinks into the country to the capable and interested buyers.

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They discovered that the alcohol was scarce in United States and so decided to supply the citizens with alcohol illegally. They made a lot of money out of the illegal smuggling of alcohol, which was an indication of an act to benefit the organized criminals. This group used to bribe the public officials for their entry into the United States with illegal alcohol.

The money they received from this illegal business funded this group to continue with their other organized crimes like prostitution, trafficking drugs, and other immoral activities. The United States prohibition act came into being through the eighteenth Amendment, where the police received the authority to enforce the law. The sale of alcohol was illegal in the United States, although in some places the alcohol beverage was still on sale especially the underground places where security would struggle to find them. Much of the alcohol that was on sale in the United States was from Canada, and the vendors used to sell it in private bars (Spiller 98). Immediately after the National Prohibition Act came into practice, an illegal system of criminals began its actions, whereby some of them made millions and millions of us dollars by transporting alcohol illegally.

During this period, the smuggled alcohol became too expensive such that some people would not afford it, and hence relied on the denatured alcohol. This denatured alcohol had some serious impacts on the users’ bodies like causing paralysis to major parts like hands and legs. Things became worse when increased death rates were realized in the United States because of this alcohol without the prohibitionist taking any action (Albanese 316). Some of the prohibitionists claim that the users of such kind of alcohol deserved that king of punishment and people continued loosing their lives.

The level of corruption was very high during this period than any other. The public officials were facilitators as they asked for bribes from the illegal alcohol traders. According to the public officers, they wanted the prohibition period to last forever, and continue taking the advantage of the situation as the level of crime went up. Instead of benefiting from the alcohol prohibition, the nation suffered greatly from loosing its people, experiencing high levels of crime and corruption and violation of authority among others. During this period, some of the strong supporters of prohibition like Rockefeller confessed that instead of the society’s morals to improve from this act, the overall condition of the nation is getting worse. The negative effects of the act were far many than the positive ones.

Through the alcohol prohibition act, an important source of government revenue was removed, and on the other hand, government spending shoots up. Some people who were already addicted to alcohol and could not afford the smuggled alcohol turned to dangerous drugs like opium, cocaine, and bhang among others (Freel 58). These are among the dangerous drugs that these people would never have used if alcohol were still legal. At he initial stages of the prohibition act the levels of alcohol consumption decreased but soon after increased a lot. The government put several restrictions on alcohol consumption on land, although there was an exempt on the ships sailing at a distance of 3 miles and many people took advantage of this situation. During prohibition, some people also practiced both legal and illegal brewing at their houses, and became somehow popular. This came because of the alcohol that was in use such as wine and hard cider, as people produced it at residential places (Maisto and Galizio 306). In some areas still, the production of commercial wine was done in United States, and later stored in the government warehouses, only to be used in churches and other holy ceremonies.

Some people decided to start selling malt extract for cooking and beverage uses, although some people used it for alcoholic purposes. The main reason of the government to practice these restrictions on alcohol consumption was to reduce the crime rates that were very high in United States. So far, the crime rates were decreasing day by day as the prisons reduce the number of the inmates. Some wines like Whiskey were available for medical purposes. The labels on the bottles indicated clearly that the purpose of taking whiskey would be strictly be recommended by a doctor.

The hospitals drug stores were full with whiskey bottles, because of increased patients who came with the same symptoms leading to whiskey as the right prescription (Dills and Miron 11). The government did not try to put some control on this, and hence the majority used this method to obtain whiskey from healthy facilities. The 1920 prohibition only put some restrictions on the production, selling and transporting the alcohol, but not in consuming or possessing. It was also possible to see people taking alcohol after the amendments because those who had already manufactured or bought were allowed to use it throughout that period until they exhaust it. During the prohibition period, the famous people in the country and the politicians were still taking alcohol. These politicians had widely voted for prohibition but thy later confessed that they were still making use of alcoholic drinks. This difference between the law and the actual practice by the lawmakers and other citizens resulted to disrespect of the government authority (Mildred 78). Although the government was trying as much as possible during the prohibition period to curb the use of alcohol in the country, more people still drunk illegally and criminals still continued taking advantage of the situation.

The effects of prohibition ended up positively to some parts of the nation, but on the other hand increased the disrespect of the law and several cases of lawlessness. The 1920 prohibition also gave a good opportunity for the organized crime to take over the production, and transporting of the alcoholic drinks. Several bootleggers were able to prosper in their work of organized crimes through the much cash gotten from the illegal alcohol. In conclusion, criminal acts increases whenever there is a product that people want in large quantity, and yet only few who can act as suppliers. In such circumstances, the mafia group of the organized criminals and other criminals takes the advantage of supplying the item on demand (Lowinson and Millman 930).

That is how even the ordinary citizens who were alcohol addicts before turned to be outlaw. The act of prohibition did not only increase the actions of the organized crimes, but also caused an increased government spending in efforts of trying to prosecute the criminals and to reduce the levels of the increased corruption. The government wasted much money, and on the other hand, the organized criminals gained a lot of money through the illegal transactions. As a result, the organized criminals developed and grew so much assuring their continuity through a strong financial base. There were no remarkable impacts of alcohol prohibition, but only negative effects that were felt by one generation to the another for instance deaths and crimes.

Works Cited

Albanese, Jay. Organized Crime in our Times. New York: Elsevier, 2010.

Dills, Angela and Jeffrey Miron. Alcohol Prohibition and Cirrhosis. New York: Cengage Learning, 2003. Freel, Brian. Passing the Mississippi Subject Area Testing Program in United States History. New York: American Book Company, 2002. Goldberg, Raymond. Drugs Across the Spectrum .

New York: Cengage Learning, 2009. Lowinson, Joyce and Millman Robert. Substance use: a comprehensive textbook. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. Maisto, Stephen and Galizio Mark. Drug Abuse and Use.

New York: Cengage Learning, 2010. Mildred, Geoffrey. Drug Use in 1920 Prohibition. New York: Cengage Learning, 2006. Spiller, John. The United States 1920.

New York: Routledge, 2004. Thornton, Mark. The economics of Prohibition. New York: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2004.


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