Thursday, June 19, 2014

True Crime Roundup II

The Twenties were just starting to roar, but due to well-meaning mistakes like Prohibition crime was on the upswing:
~ "Detection of False Handwriting" (1921): "THIS TAKES ON GREAT IMPORTANCE in criminal jurisprudence—in cases of suspected frauds in wills or documents, forged checks, etc. Recent methods [have been] devised and used by Dr. Locard, director of the Police Laboratory in Lyons, France . . . It is claimed that these are more scientific and more mathematically exact than previous ones. Dr. Locard places great reliance on measurement of the peculiarities of a handwriting on photographic enlargements.  . . . when we have to deal with simple free-hand imitation of handwriting, if it is apparently perfect, identification is difficult. This is the problem solved by Dr. Locard.  . . ." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (August 6, 1921)
~ "The Necessity of Pistol-Toting" (1921): ". . . one of the editors of Field and Stream (New York) dismiss[es] the claim of an Iowan clergyman and a United States Senator that prohibiting the sale of small arms would prevent crime, the editor arguing that the effect of such a statute would be exactly the reverse of what its advocates desire, since the criminal would still go armed, while all good citizens would obey the law.  . . ." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (August 6, 1921)
~ "Rum Ships That Pass in the Night" (1921): "The traffic which they [government ships and airplanes] are going to suppress is carried on not only in coastwise ships, says The Tribune, but a fleet of fast motor-boats carry wet cargoes ashore at strategic points, and are there met by motor-trucks which distribute the smuggled liquor, valued at millions of dollars, along the coast. Obviously, it is not a poor man's game.THE LITERARY DIGEST (August 20, 1921)
~ "Accounting for the 'Crime Wave' " (1921): "BURGLARY AND EMBEZZLEMENT resulted in the loss of $100,000,000 and the payment of more than  $16,000,000 in claims by thirty of the principal insurance companies, according to a recent statement by President William B. Joyce, of the National Surety Company . . . Prohibition; lessening of respect for law, which is said by some newspaper editors to be partly due to reform agitation; envy induced by the exploitation of wealth; extravagance, and the spread of radicalism are among the causes listed by Mr. Joyce for the prevalance of these particular forms of crime.  . . ." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (August 27, 1921)
~ The “war to end all wars” was over, but a new one was just beginning—on the streets of America.
It wasn’t much of a fight, really—at least at the start.
On the one side was a rising tide of professional criminals, made richer and bolder by Prohibition, which had turned the nation “dry” in 1920. In one big city alone—Chicago—an estimated 1,300 gangs had spread like a deadly virus by the mid-1920s.
There was no easy cure. With wallets bursting from bootlegging profits, gangs outfitted themselves with “Tommy” guns and operated with impunity by paying off politicians and police alike. Rival gangs led by the powerful Al “Scarface” Capone and the hot-headed George “Bugs” Moran turned the city streets into a virtual war zone with their gangland clashes. By 1926, more than 12,000 murders were taking place every year across America.  . . ."The FBI and the American Gangster, 1924-1938," from The FBI: A Centennial History, 1908-2008
~ "A New Way to Trap Forgers" (1921): "PRESS DISPATCHES from California tell of the confession of a forger after he had been confronted with photographic evidence of his crime obtained by Chauncy McGovern, a San Francisco handwriting expert, by a method said to have been employed for the first time on this case.  . . ." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (October 1, 1921)
~ "Tear-Bombs for Mobs and Bandits" (1921): "THE PHILADELPHIA POLICE think that they now have the means of stopping a charging mob or a fleeing bandit, putting either out of commission and yet inflicting no permanent injury. This is to be done by grenades throwing out a gas similar to the 'tear-gas' used in the late war.  . . ." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (October 15, 1921)
~ "Finger-Prints to Settle Art Disputes" (1921): "Modern criminology has given the answer. The police made reply where art critics could not. An expert inspector in the criminal identification department [C.I.D.] of the Scotland Yard pointed to the finger-prints and said: 'This is the work of Leonardo da Vinci'." — THE LITERARY DIGEST (October 15, 1921)
Resources:
- Our first True Crime Roundup is HERE.
- An angry-toned study of how the Puritans' "blue laws" paralleled the modern Prohibition crusade is Ye Olden Blue Laws (1921), online HERE, with reviews HERE and HERE.

Category: True crime

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