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Organized crime is the transnational, national or local level co-ordination amongst enterprises run by criminals, engaged in illegal activities primarily for money. The Rise of Organized Crime can be traced to the 1920s, when the 18th Amendment was approved by the American Government and the National Prohibition Act passed. Alcohol was a perceived evil and its ban was expected to enhance the quality of lives. Prior to this, criminal activities largely bordered on gambling, prostitution and theft. However, following the Prohibition Act banning trading and consumption of alcohol, people who consumed alcohol became criminals. The impact of the Prohibition law, along-with the stock market crash which impoverished the people, led to the subsequent rise in organized crimes.
The National Prohibition Act, also known as Volstead Act, intended to curb crime and violence, but it worked otherwise. Post the Act, crime rate shot up by 24%. During the period, 1920 - 1933, burglaries rose by 9%, homicides by 12%, assaults by 13% and drug addiction by about 44%. (The Prohibition Era and Rise of Organized crime) Owing to the economic depression, people were unable to find jobs and provide for their families. Criminal activities appeared lucrative and made people turn towards it.
Post the amendment, organized crime seeped into the lucrative black market for banned alcohol. Officials were bribed and alcohol was hidden in most creative ways, like hollowed-out canes, false books and hip flasks. Prohibition is being blamed for having created more gangs than ever and turning cities into battlegrounds between warring factions. Crime syndicates like the American Mobsters thrived and were looked upon as heroes. Closing down the alcohol factories increased unemployment and violence on the streets. The gangs supplying alcohol were ruthless, inflated prices and often fought against each other for control of the trade. An entire black market thrived on alcohol. Boot-legging made alcohol easily available and its poor quality made many sick and deaths from alcohol poisoning had risen by 400%.
The unprecedented rise in crime coupled with public’s opposition forced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to annul the Prohibition Act on December 5, 1933. This impacted the black market profits from alcohol due to available low-priced retail sales. Crime rate dropped as criminal elements moved out of the industry. Organized crime moved on to new markets, wealthier and more powerful. Had it not been for Prohibition, organized crime would not have flourished and made syndicates so wealthy and powerful.