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Politics of Corruption, The

Politics of Corruption, The: Organized Crime in an American City

Copyright Date: 1970
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Politics of Corruption, The
    Book Description:

    Discusses actual corrupt practices in one small city, showing both the mechanisms of corruption and the fundamental questions they raise, the answers to which will apply in many cities. He describes the background and conditions that made it possible for a local syndicate to take over an Eastern industrial center, "Wincanton." He discusses the many factors which permitted the take-over, stressing the citizens' lack of concern about links between petty gambling and the undermining of their local government.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-629-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. chapter one Law Enforcement, Corruption, and Urban Politics
    (pp. 1-5)

    In the middle of the twentieth century, organized crime has become a major force in American life. The 1967 Report of the National Crime Commission concluded that members of La Cosa Nostra can be found in many areas of the United States, and that smaller independent groups operate in many other cities. Estimates of the gross revenues to the syndicates from gambling alone run as high as $7 to $50 billion per year; net profits may run as high as $6 or $7 billion.¹ Despite the extensiveness of the syndicates, however, there is little reason to assume that illegal gambling...

  6. chapter two Wincanton
    (pp. 6-16)

    For at least fifty years, Wincanton has had something of a reputation as a “sin city.” One worker on the staff of the National Crime Commission recalled that when he was growing up in a nearby city, Wincanton was where men went to raise hell on a Saturday night—if their wives would let them out of the house. Physically, it hardly looks the part; lacking either verdant resorts or quaint “Oldtown” or Greenwich Village charm, Wincanton looks mostly like an old, rather decayed factory town. A journalist who visited the city in 1967 summed it up as

    an almost...

  7. chapter three The Stern Syndicate
    (pp. 17-31)

    Since the early 1930s, the story of gambling and corruption in Wincanton has centered around the activities of Irving Stern.¹ Born in Russia in 1898, Stern emigrated to the United States and settled in Wincanton in 1904. After he had worked for a few years at his family’s fruit-stand, Prohibition arrived and Stern became a bootlegger for Heinz Glickman, then controlling beer distribution throughout a three-state region. Once after hijacking a shipment of illicit alcohol, Stern was ambushed and shot at by his infuriated rivals; Stern quickly identified his assailants for the police. At the ensuing trial, however, Stern was...

  8. chapter four Public Attitudes Toward Law Enforcement
    (pp. 32-56)

    The phenomenon of systematic nonenforcement of criminal laws due to official corruption raises a number of questions about the process by which public policies are made.¹ On the one hand, public policies might be viewed as manifestations of the expressed or latent values of community residents, or at least of those who are politically active; nonenforcement might thus reflect community hostility to the official laws. An alternative interpretation might be that local residents know little or nothing about the policies being followed by official agencies; a policy of nonenforcement could therefore arise through the secret machinations of corrupt officials while...

  9. chapter five Corruption as a Political Issue
    (pp. 57-76)

    Under ordinary conditions. a police official has a great deal of freedom in deciding what policies to follow. So long as large (and vocal) interests within the community do not believe themselves to be adversely affected by police practices, a “zone of indifference”¹ exists within which the official can choose to stress certain laws, ignore others, and so forth. Where demands for the enforcement of a particular law are weak, or where proenforcement demands are matched by equal demands for nonenforcement, the official will be especially free to act as he chooses. His freedom of choice, of course, will also...

  10. chapter six The Consequences of Corruption
    (pp. 77-92)

    The corruption which has been documented in the preceding chapters led to the violation of many city, state, and national laws. Laws forbidding gambling and prostitution were ignored, city contracts and licenses were awarded to those willing to pay the highest bribes, city jobs went only to those who kicked back part of their salaries, and so forth. Were thereotherconsequences of this corruption? Apart from the way in which criminal laws and codes of official conduct are administered, does it make any difference whether a government acts honestly or corruptly?² Students of other forms of corruption have concluded...

  11. chapter seven Law-Enforcement Corruption: Explanations and Recommendations
    (pp. 93-104)

    Corruption is a persistent and practically ubiquitous aspect of political society; it is unlikely that any reforms will ever eliminate it completely. Wherever men compete for valuable but limited commodities, whether they are licenses to operate taxicabs, franchises to sell goods to the government, or freedom to operate a numbers game, there will be a temptation to secure these commodities through corrupt inducements if other efforts fail. Barring some apocalyptic change in human nature, there will always be people who want to gamble, visit prostitutes, or enrich themselves through illegal deals with the government. And, on the other hand, in...

  12. Appendix A THE 1966 ATTITUDE SURVEY
    (pp. 105-114)
    (pp. 115-121)
    (pp. 122-126)
  15. Index
    (pp. 127-129)