Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

History of Organized Crime in the United States

  • Howard AbadinskyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_624


Organized crime in America has a history that stretches from 1920 into the twenty-first century. From its beginnings in urban America to the global connections that characterize the phenomenon today, organized crime has proven to be a dynamic enterprise. This entry provides a summary examination of the nearly 100 years that organized crime has existed in the United States beginning with the critical role of Prohibition.

The Role of Prohibition

Prior to the Prohibition era (1920–1933) vice – gambling and prostitution – insofar as it was organized, was dominated by big-city political machines aided by street gangs that proliferated among the urban poor. The gangs were local entities serving as the military wing of corrupt political organizations. They engaged voter fraud – voting early and often – and intimidation of political opponents. In short, they were violent errand boys at the bottom of an organizational pyramid that featured political bosses at the top. Then came...

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Recommended Reading and References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. John’s UniversityNew YorkUSA