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|Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on National Prohibition - 1926
THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS
TESTIMONY OF JUDGE ALFRED J. TALLEY, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF GENERAL SESSIONS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Senator MEANS. I do not think we ought to take up your time with these questions.
Mr. CODMAN. I wanted to state that opportunity will be given before the end of these hearings for a large number of Congressmen who wish to express their views before the committee, and who desire to make short statements.
Senator MEANS. You alarm me; I am acquainted with a good many Congressmen, and short statements are not particularly in their line.
Mr. CODMAN. The reason some of the statements are long is that they excite questions from the committee.
Senator REED of Missouri. As far as I am concerned, I am not greatly interested in the opinions of Congressmen or anybody else; I would like to have the facts; when we call for an opinion of a man here, we only call for it in this sense; that is, I have only called for it in this sense, that frequently a man can not put his hand on concrete cases, but he can say from his observation and experience and what he has heard he has an opinion of a thing, that a condition exists, and that is in the nature of proof of a fact. Let us go ahead.
Mr. CODMAN. Judge Talley will be the next witness.
TESTIMONY OF JUDGE ALFRED J. TALLEY, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF GENERAL SESSIONS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Senator MEANS. Judge, you will be sworn as a witness.
(The witness, Judge Alfred J. Talley, was thereupon sworn by Senator Means, chairman of the subcommittee.)
Mr. CODMAN. Give your name, please.
Judge TALLEY. Alfred J. Talley.
Mr. CODMAN. And just state who you are, Judge Talley.
Judge TALLEY. Yes.
Mr. CODMAN. Just define who you are to the committee.
Judge TALLEY. For three years prior to January 1, 1921, I was chief assistant and acting district attorney of the county of New York. For the five years ending on January 1 of this year I was judge of the Court of General Sessions of the city of New York, which is regarded as the greatest criminal court in the world, and is, by the way, the oldest court in the United States. It is a court of exclusively criminal jurisdiction, trying only felony cases, from murder down.
You gentlemen may not agree with any conclusions that I may express, if I express any, but you, I do not think, will question my opportunities for observing crime and criminals during the last eight years.
Senator REED of Missouri. Do not misunderstand me, Judge, the opinion of a man who has had experience, based on his experience, is one thing that we are glad to have, I think; I know I am glad to have it.
Senator MEANS. Go ahead and state it in your own way.
Judge TALLEY. It is my calm and deliberate judgment, gentlemen, based on my experience, that the greatest single menace contributing or confronting the United States to-day is the existence of the prohibition law as it now stands. I was asked to come here and state its
effects primarily upon the administration of the criminal law, and that I will endeavor to do.
One, of the most imposing promises made by the friends of prohibition before the eighteenth amendment was that by abolishing drink crime would be decreased to a minimum. That promise has not been fulfilled. Crime has increased in such amazing proportion that it has become! the dominant consideration of most of the State and municipal governments of the Nation. A national crime commission of distinguished men from every section of the country, has been formed, and a bill is now pending in the New York Legislature which has to do with the appointment of a joint committee, to be joined by citizens to determine the came and possible remedies to reduce the tremendous wave of crime that is sweeping not only the country but New York as well.
I need not quote statistics to this committee, I am sure, to demonstrate that this is the most lawless country on the face of the earth. I go a step further. I assert that prohibition is one of the largest contributing factors to that disgraceful condition, by reason of the conceded, failure or inability of Federal and State authorities to enforce the law; it has created a disrespect for law which, starting with prohibition, has gone all along the line.
The report of these proceedings will go through hundreds of miles over wires to-night. If there is one break in that wire, communication ceases, and that is the situation with respect to the essential thing in this country to-day, or in any republican form of government--- respect for law.
If one law is openly scoffed at or violated, a general disrespect for law is engendered, and there is a break in the wire, which must be repaired before the integrity or effectiveness of the whole can be restored. Our officials. have tried to enforce this prohibition act and failed. Many have retired, in disgust. Prosecutors have admitted failure and utter inability to stem the tide of lawlessness. Judges have from the bench denounced the law as infamous and a breeder of crime.
Senator Walsh asked Mr. Buckner a very pertinent question with regard to New York, of which alone I am qualified to supply the facts and that is the reaction of juries upon prohibition cases which come before them for determination.
I will state to the committee not what petit juries did alone but what a body of men composed of supposedly the better grade, better type of men than that which make up the petit jury, the grand jury, selected men.
In New York we had a State enforcement act known as the Mullen-Gage Act, which was in force in 1921 and 1922. It was thereafter repealed.
Now, here is what the grand juries of the county of New York did with prohibition cases that came before them.
In 1921 there were 1,432 cases disposed of by the district attorney's office of New York County.
Senator MEANS. May I interrupt there. What do you mean by "disposed of?"
Judge TALLEY. Handled; they came in, and went out.
Senator MEANS. That means pleas of guilty, not guilty, trials---
Judge TALLEY (interposing). Yes; everything.
Senator MEANS. Go ahead.
Judge TALLEY. There, were 1,432 cases. Of those 1,432, 18 were convicted, 16 were acquitted in the court in which I was one of the presiding judges, 94 plead guilty and there were dismissed by the grand jury, out of this 1,432, 1,294.
In 1922 there were 2,733 cases disposed of. There were no convictions; there were 3 acquittals; 255 plead guilty and the grand jury dismissed 2,318--- kicked them out, in the parlance of the criminal court there in New York.
Now, in 1923, after the repeal of the law, there was left 2,739 cases for that year. They had to be tried, disposed of, despite the fact that the law had been repealed. Indictments had been found in each one of these cases; there were 2,739. There were 2 conviction; there were 10 acquitted; 147 plead guilty and 2,462 were dismissed by the grand jury--- that is, of course, before an indictment was found and without going to trial at all.
Senator REED of Missouri. Will you please give us those last figures again?
Judge TALLEY. 1923 there were 2,739 cases; two convictions, 10 acquittals, 147 plead guilty, and 2,462 were dismissed by the grand jury.
Senator MEANS. I do not like to interrupt you, but can you give me the reasons for the action of the grand jury?
Judge TALLEY. Yes, Sir, I will give you the reason they gave me, Senator.
Senator MEANS. Well, if you do not have any other.
Judge TALLEY. I think they are the true reasons.
Senator MEANS. All right, go ahead.
Judge TALLEY. I recall one month presiding at the part to which the grand juries report, in which they are empanelled, and to which they hand in their indictments every day. There were two grand juries dismissed, and because of this condition the judges requested the district attorney to alternate the liquor cases--- instead of having all the cases going before one, there is invariably two grand juries working in the county of New York, frequently three--- instead of having all cases piled in on one grand jury, they were alternated--- one day one grand Jury would handle them; the next day the other would handle them. Before these two grand juries there were, as I recollect it, 120 cases presented that month. Of those 120 cases they handed back precisely 2 indictments.
When those grand juries were empaneled, I charged them, as the law requires, and called particular attention to the number of prohibition cases or liquor cases that would come before them, and I urged them, as the judges made a practice of doing, as earnestly as I possibly could, to set aside any personal feeling or predilection or opposition to that law, reminding them of their duty and that irrespective of their own opinion where the evidence justified it they should find indictments. The result was as I have indicated. They heard 120 cases and they reported indictments in 2 and dismissed the rest.
I called them before me more than once during the term and asked them what the situation was and why the men would not indict them. The foreman said "We have urged them to bear in mind the instructions they got in the charge of the court, but the men tell me that they
will not indict men for offenses which they are committing themselves." Some of the jury made that direct report to me, and in my judgment it was a fact---
Senator MEANS (interposing.) Let me get at this. Buckner raised a question this morning, those were what he called the waiters or bartenders--- what he called the little fellow?
Judge TALLEY. Yes.
Senator MEANS. Did they have the same attitude toward anyone wherein proof was directed that he was guilty of the "traffic" as he called it--- he distinguished between the two, if you heard his testimony.
Judge TALLEY. Yes, I heard his testimony.
Senator MEANS. Can you differentiate as to the attitude of the juries on those two different phases of enforcement?
Judge TALLEY. There was not any difference so far as I could determine in their attitude toward any violation of the liquor or prohibition law.
The two cases, I made it my business to inquire, in this particular month, when I centered attention on it, the only two cases I recollect where they were convicted, where there was evidence the stuff was being manufactured in a house, sold in a tenement neighborhood, and was poisonous, and those cases they could not get away from and indicted the man that was selling, carrying, transporting, or doing anything else other than poisoning people, they declined to indict them. When I set forth these figures I know I am setting forth the experience of the nine judges of that court that sat with me during this period.
Now, the question of intoxication, arrests for intoxication by the police department may help to get a picture of this thing.
In 1919 there were 6,855 arrests in New York for intoxication.
Senator HARRELD. Do you mean there were that many cases initiated, or the hangover each year as well as newly initiated.
Judge TALLEY. Those are the cases disposed of in the magistrate court where those cases would be disposed of.
Now, in the State automobile bureau, to take another phase of it, to make up a composite picture, I am trying to confine myself to the effect of the administration of the criminal law--- the State Automobile Bureau of New York created what they called a safety bureau.
From October of 1924, and last year they revoked the licenses of chauffeurs, after a hearing, for driving while intoxicated, to the number of 1,561.
Now, you can not overestimate the importance of that situation, because every drunken driver is a potential murderer.
In this year, to bring it up to date as nearly as possible, I got the figures before I left New York; they reported 52 in January; 34 in February; and 50 in March--- but the open season for drunken automobilists has not yet commenced, it will not commence until the summer season, then the figures increase amazingly.
Something was said here upon another phase; that is, the effect of the prohibition law on young people, on children, there is not any doubt, and nobody can dispute that a very large proportion of serious crime in New York City, and I take it to be the situation throughout the larger cities of the country, is being committed by boys--- I have had them before me in hundreds charged with the most serious crimes in the law, crimes, which when they appear in the newspapers, shock the conscience of a community, and yet when their perpetrators come before the criminal bar, a great many of them turn out to be boys, 17, 18, and 19 years of age.
One of the last printed reports of the State prison commission which I saw showed that in the prisons in the State of New. York there were three times as many 19-year-old boys as there were of any other age, and this in spite of the fact that for any crime which sends a boy to the State prison, there is always a suspension of sentence, the reformatory, and the penitentiary before a youth is sent to the State prison, yet that was the situation existing in the State prisons.
Senator REED of Missouri (interposing). You used the term "penitentiary." Do you distinguish that from the State prison?
Judge TALLEY. Yes; in New York the penitentiary is not a State prison; it is under the jurisdiction of the city rather than the State.
I want to quote as briefly as possible one of the best qualified men upon the effect on child life in New York City, a statement by Vincent Pizarro, veteran superintendent of the Children's Society, generally known as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who says there is more drinking amongst children than was thought of before prohibition; that they experience a new thing of girls under 18 coming to them as a result of drinking parties; they do not get them over that age, and they are brought into them ravished, generally as a result of drinking parties; that boys and girls who would not have thought about drinking before prohibition are now engaged in it, and that they find that the young girl of 16 and 17 is the one that is most susceptible; that the boys can not go to parties without gin; and that the harm being done in the road houses and night clubs and the speakeasies is appalling.
Col. Ernest Coulter, who is the general manager of the Children's Society, a man who from my own experience has handled in 20 years the cases of more children in trouble and in difficulty than any other man in New York, says:
That youth is, especially sensitive to the example of the disrespect for law which this; has engendered. That upon young people the effect is demoralizing. That there is undoubtedly more drinking among the young people than before.
Some mention to-day was made during Mr. Buckner's testimony about the speakeasies. It is my judgment, based solely upon my experience in handling the thing, trying cases and prosecuting them, that for every saloon in the city of New York that has been abolished by reason of this enactment, there are to-day at least three speakeasies existing, and nobody can overestimate the menace of the speakeasy, because it has brought the sale of liquor into the tenement houses, into the dwelling houses, and it has brought it within the purview of the children of the tenement and into the poor neighborhoods, just as the night club has brought in into other neighborhoods of the city.
Here is the question from the point of view of the enforcement of criminal law that is a result of the speakeasy. In former days the saloon was generally on a prominent comer and in a lighted place; at least, it had easy access to the street. It was regulated, it was licensed, it was under police supervision, and if trouble, a row, or a fight started in a saloon, its nearness to the street, its proximity to a policeman, was such that the trouble could be controlled.
District Attorney Banton, of New York, said to me on Monday:
Before prohibition, intoxication was subsequently urged as an excuse for crime, but the offenses were generally foolish or most trivial. They were generally street brawls and the foolish things that men who had imbibed too much might be apt to do, but the crimes for which the same excuse is given now are crimes of viciousness and frenzy induced by the fact that the kind of liquor now consumed drives men to frenzy and to violence and to most serious kinds of crime. Brawls in the saloon of former days, because of their publicity, were generally quelled without much injury being done, but now the police continuously report terrible fights in private rooms and houses which have their serious results because they are removed from public observation and the publicity of quick police interference. A large part of the liquor consumed in speakeasies is manufactured on the premises and in the new and raw state in which it is consumed of necessity produces violent results.
Day after day I have sat upon the bench of general sessions and it seemed as if there were scarcely a case of any character--- we have only had the serious ones--- that was not in some way identified with the sale or consumption or transportation of liquor. It seemed that term after term, that in some way or another, this question of illegal traffic in liquor came into most every criminal case.
Senator MEANS. The thought occurs to me, and I speak of it now because I want you to differentiate if you will, and it is only for the purpose of clearing up my own mind: The Salvation Army has, since the World War, been closer to the hearts of the American people, in my humble judgment, than any other organization in the United States. Why is it that the Salvation Army gives as their experience just the opposite to the conclusions that you reach and the facts and things that come to your notice on the bench?
Judge TALLEY. I do not know, Senator, except that the Salvation Army has not had the same opportunities to observe the effect of this situation upon crime that I have had, if I may be bold enough to say that.
Senator MEANS. Your information is, then, that the Salvation Army has not the same opportunity of knowing the situation that you do by reason of your administration of the courts?
Judge TALLEY. I think it has not. I think the Salvation Army only gets the derelict.
Senator MEANS. I do not know really what the Salvation Army thinks on this subject, but I want to know whether, and it just occurred to me since this hearing was on, that as one member of the committee I wished to find out from them just what their information is, and what their opinion of conditions is as the result of prohibition.
Judge TALLEY. I will guarantee, Senator, that they will not assert that conditions now are better than they were before prohibition went into effect.
Senator MEANS. I do not know what they will assert, except that I did read something that General Booth had to say; otherwise I am not informed.
Senator REED of Missouri. Does General Booth live in this country?
Senator MEANS. I really do not know.
Senator REED of Missouri. And I do not know, but I just asked that for information.
Judge TALLEY. I do know this from information, that at the free lodging houses, we call them the Bowery lodging houses, for the poorest class, and that are being conducted not for profit, there are far more applicants for shelter and aid now than before prohibition. If you will investigate you will find that to be a fact.
Senator MEANS. Pardon me, if I bother you in your presentation of matters.
Judge TALLEY. It does not bother me. I hope I may be able to satisfactorily answer your questions.
Senator HARRELD. If your theory is a fact, what has become of all the gold cures that it was claimed cured people suffering from acute alcoholism'?
Judge TALLEY. I never knew there were any.
Judge HALL. Why, in your position as judge, did not you ever hear of one of these cures?
Judge TALLEY. I have heard about them, but I never knew about them effecting any permanent cures.
Senator HARRELD. They were all said to be necessary because during the day of the saloon there was said to be so much intoxication.
Judge TALLEY. The figures showing the police experience, that I am giving you, and the hospital reports to follow, show that some such thing is far more necessary now than ever before.
Senator HARRELD. Have not those hospitals that claimed to cure intoxication or acute alcoholism gone out of existence?
Judge TALLEY. I think they have gone out of existence because the were not successful in effecting cures.
Now, this was the situation created by the prohibition law according to the district attorney of New York. County: That the crimes now, instead of being foolish things, are crimes of viciousness. They are crimes of frenzy that drive men crazy instead of brawls that might have occurred in saloons in the former days. They are now confined to the house and the police do not get there in most cases until the crime has been committed or terrible injury has been done to the participants. In the early days the men in a fight in a saloon would have been thrown out.
And, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, may I give you a report of the Bellevue and allied hospitals upon the question of increased intoxication?
Senator MEANS. The audience will please be quiet so that we may hear. Do not interrupt the proceedings. You may go ahead, Judge Talley.
Judge TALLEY. I asked the president of the board of trustees of the Bellevue and allied hospitals, the great public hospitals of the city of New York, to send me statistics that he had as to cases of alcoholism that came through his hospital, In his letter he calls my attention to the fact that cases of alcoholism have increased over 100 per cent since prohibition went into effect. From 1919, the beginning of prohibition, to 1924 the cases of alcoholism increased from 10,568 to 24,378. In 1919 there were 44 cases of alcoholism
per 1,000 of hospital discharges. That is a term apparently they use for the amount of business they handle. In 1919 there were 44 cases per 1,000 of alcoholism, whereas in 1924 the number of cases had increased to 97 per 1,000, showing an increase of well over 100 per cent.
Now, let me give you figures as briefly as possible. They use the term "discharges," and it is as good as any other I take it. In the department of public welfare hospitals, in Bellevue and allied hospitals, and these are the public free hospitals, and the police department arrests in 1919 were 10,568 cases of alcoholism. In 1920 that number leaped to 11,129. In 1921 the number was 12,031, and in 1922 it went up to 18,202, and in 1923 it went up still further to 23,360, and in 1924 it reached 24,278. And the figures for 1925 are not yet available. That is all against the figure 10,568 in 1919.
Here is another way of getting at it: The cases of alcoholism in the hospitals per 1,000 discharges, and that means for every 1,000 group that went out, there were this number of alcoholic cases: In 1919, 72; in 1920, 69; in 1921, 72; in 1922, 122; in 1923, 174; and in 1924, 167.
There is nobody in New York who comes in closer contact with the individuals who come into the criminal courts than the probation officers. The system of probation existing there is a model, the judges think, for probation for the rest of the country. It is amazing the intimate details into which the probation officer goes before he makes his report to the court. There is always an interval in New York of at least a week between the time of conviction or of pleading guilty and passing sentence in order to give the probation officer a chance to make his report.
The chief probation officer of the city of New York is an authority throughout the country. Mr. Edwin J. Cooley, is probation officer of the Court of General Sessions. I want to give you his observations under date of April 5, 1926, to me, because I tried to get the facts to come down here and present to you when I was invited to come. Mr. Cooley says:
We were impressed by the large number of cases in which the defendants (of previous good conduct and never before having been arraigned in court) were under the influence of liquor at the time they committed offenses of burglary, robbery, and assault, and other offenses against person and property.
He first mentioned the fact that he handled over 2,000 cases since January of 1925. He goes on to say:
Sixty-one and four-tenths per cent of the cases investigated by the bureau were those of youths between 16 and 25 years. The proportion of general offenders has grown strikingly larger since prohibition went into effect.
Now, gentlemen of the committee, I could not begin to recount the number of cases of that character where boys of unquestioned good repute, and good working workers, have been charged with these
offenses, who have never been in court before, and invariably they started with a party of young people where there was liquor the same as I have mentioned.
"In a considerable number of all cases investigated," says Mr. Cooley, "alcoholism was a contributing factor in the delinquency of the defendant."
And now Mr. Cooley says this, and it is entirely in accord with my own experience, and, I believe, with the experience of every police official, and I know with the experience of the district attorney of New York County to day, and of all my former brother judges on the bench, that---
There are more speak-easys to-day flourishing in many sections of New York City than there ever were licensed saloons.
A study of arrests over a period of eight years has recently been made by the World League Against Alcoholism. The number of arrests for all offenses in 185 cities in the United States shows an enormous increase for the year 1923 over any previous year since 1913. Chicago, in 1924, showed an Increase of nearly 400 per cent over 1920 in offenses which are associated with low moral tone and decreasing respect for law.
You have heard the figures given here by the representative from Philadelphia, that the total number of arrests for drunkenness has nearly doubled since 1920.
The National Bar Association is quoted as saying that the criminal situation in the United States, in so far as crimes of violence are concerned, is worse than in any other civilized country.
I do not think that can be disputed.
Now, may I take a little more time, Mr. Codman?
Mr. CODMAN. Certainly.
Judge TALLEY. Let me give you the figures on prison population, because what I am attempting to show you is the effect, as I believe it to be the effect, of the existence of the prohibition law as at present not enforced, upon crime generally. The thirtieth annual report of the State commission of prisons. That takes in the prisons of the State of New York. It is a public document. Covers the year 1924. I am not going to read it. I am going to give you the figures as briefly as I can.
At the close of the fiscal year, June 30, 1924, there were 12,538 males and 1,168 females confined in the institutions subject to the visitation and inspection of the State commission of prisons. That population was greater by 1,651 males and 79 females, or 14.4 per cent, than on the same date in 1923, and exceeded the population on June 30 for any year subsequent to 1917.
During the year 111,602 persons, including 12,361 females, were committed to these institutions, which number was greater by 17,692, or 18.8 per cent, than during the preceding year. The commitments exceeded those of any year since 1917, when 129,352 persons were received on commitment. A study of the figures in the annual reports of the commission show that from 1917 to 1920 there was a steady decline in the number of commitments, but since 1920 the
number has increased until the past year, when the number was nearly double the number committed during the fiscal year ending. June 30, 1920.
Commitments increased to all institutional groups with the exception of reformatories for women and the Institution for Defective Delinquents. In the institutions receiving prisoners after conviction only, viz, prisons, penitentiaries, and the New York State Reformatory (males), the increases were, respectively, as follows: 415 or 28.8 per cent; 3,588 or 54.8 per cent; and 142 or 25.1 per cent increase.
Now in the New York City institutions, both before and after conviction, prisoners are received, and in these institutions the increases were 9,434 or 34.5 per cent, and 4,184, or 7.3 per cent respectively. That is the increase only.
There were in custody in 1923 in the various institutions, State prisons, reformatories, penitentiaries, county jails, New York City institutions, the Tombs, for instance, Blackwell's Island, or other places that are referred to as the city institutions, and the Institution for Defective Delinquents, 11,976. That number was increased in 1924 to 13,706, and it went in 1925 to 14,552.
Now in the same report are the figures upon what they call public intoxication.
Reports to the commission from sheriffs and authorities in charge of the county penitentiaries and New York City institutions for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1924, showed a decided increase over the previous year in the number of commitments to these institutions for public intoxication. The increases were as follows:
In the county jails there were 3,252, nearly 50 per cent more than last year.
In the county penitentiaries there was an increase of 62.3 per cent.
In the New York City institutions there was an increase of 38.7 per cent.
The increase was not confined to men. The number of women committed for these offenses--- that is, public intoxication--- showing an increase in every institutional group.
A study of the reports for the past 10 fiscal years shows that the number of commitments for these causes was greater during the past year than during any year since 1917, except in the county penitentiaries, where the number committed for these offenses was greater during each of the fiscal years 1915 to 1919 than during the, past year.
In 1920 the percentage of all prisoners in these institutions and the jails, penitentiaries, and city institutions for intoxication was 39.4 per cent. That jumped from 1920 to 53.9 per cent in 1923, and in 1924 it went to 59.3 per cent.
Now there is one other matter in answer to a question that I think Senator Means propounded about the foreign born. That is a subject that is not generally understood. In the city of New York we have unquestionably the largest foreign-born population of any city in the country. No question about that. It adds to the difficulties in administering the law.
Senator MEANS. Let me say this to you. The reason that prompted that question is this, that only recently we had some organization--- I have forgotten its name--- here from Chicago, that alleged before the Committee on Immigration that in the city of Chicago the chief bootleggers were foreign born, and it was that element that was the
nester of crime, and particularly bootlegging, and I merely inquired if that condition existed in New York City. I do not know that it exists in Chicago, but they so recited to the Committee on Immigration. That is what prompted the question, and I am glad you are going to take it up.
Judge TALLEY. Yes, sir. Many well-thinking people are of the impression that the larger percentage of the crime is committed in a cosmopolitan city like New York by the foreign born or the alien. It is a dangerous argument to use or to advance. It is a double-edged sword.
This is the situation, based entirely upon my experience. The foreign born on the average is a law-abiding citizen. It is the son of the foreign born, brought up under the aegis of our free institutions and under the American system of education and training that produces the criminal in a great city like New York where the foreign population is very large.
And here are these figures that I am about to give you, that are the definite figures with reference to all the State institutions in the State of New York, which show that there were only 16.9 per cent of the prison population in 1924 that were aliens, and 180, or 9.7 per cent, foreign born but naturalized.
It is not the foreign born, despite the popular impression to the contrary, that is furnishing the criminal statistics that are so discreditable to this country to-day. I wanted to make that statement because it was suggested by your question this morning Senator.
Now, I do not think that I should take the time of this committee further.
Senator REED of Missouri. I would like to hear anything further you have got to say. You appear to be giving us some facts, and I would give more for them than all the comments that can be made.
Judge TALLEY. Thank you.
Mr. CODMAN. So would I.
Judge TALLEY. Now, I will conclude with something that while it is not entirely germane to this inquiry is at least educational. I have here "The Homicide Record" for this country, published on the 1st of this month April 1926, by Frederick L. Hoffman, consulting statistician, the Prudential Insurance Co. of America, who for many years past has been compiling these statistics. He is a thoroughly reliable statistician upon this subject, and I am going to summarize very briefly just what the murder conditions are, and I will give you my conclusions, if I may, when I get through.
Our murder record for 1925 is the worst we have thus far experienced. Preliminary statistics for 77 American cities indicate an increase in the murder death rate from 10.8 per 100,000 in 1924 to 11.1 per 100,000 in 1925. The rate increased in 35 cities, and decreased in 40 others, while in two it remained unchanged. The most suggestive increases are the following: The rate for Chicago increased from 17.5 to 18.8, or from 509 deaths in 1924 to 563 deaths in 1925.
There are only 365 days in the year. That means considerably more than one murder a day in Chicago, and the same in a smaller proportion in the city of New York. We have a daily murder there in New York, and more than a daily murder in Chicago. [Reading:]
The rate for Cincinnati increased from 15.3 to 21.3 and for Cleveland, Ohio, there is an increase of from 10.7 to 13.6. For Dallas, Tex., there is an increase of from 24.5 to 27.3.
An extraordinary increase of murders occurred in Dayton, Ohio, where there were 6 deaths in 1924 and 20 deaths in 1925. There was also an extraordinary increase in Detroit, Mich., from 211 murders in 1924 to 243 in 1925. In Houston, Tex., the murder deaths increased from 28 to 45. In Jacksonville, Fla., there was an increase of from 63 to 69. That city at present has the highest murder rate on record, or 72.3 per 100,000.
That city at the present time holds the palm for the highest murder rate in this country. [Reading:]
That city at present has the highest murder rate on record, or 72.3 per 100,000, which is even higher than the Memphis rate for 1923. The true significance of the Jacksonville figures is illustrated by the statement that while there were 69 murder deaths in a population of 95,000, Pittsburgh, Pa., with a population of 631,000, had only 62 murder deaths. In Philadelphia there was an increase from 149 deaths in 1924 to 192 in 1925, regardless of some very spectacular efforts at local law enforcement.
Senator MEANS. You said there was a decrease of 30 and an increase of forty-odd. Can you give us the total? Was there an increase during this last year?
Judge TALLEY. Yes.
Senator MEANS. How much?
Judge TALLEY. Last year Mr. Hoffman indicated there were about 10,000 murders; this year he estimates that there were 12,000. I will give you the bulk of the figures, Senator.
This is from 28 American cities, taken from all from which statistics were available. In 1900, with a population of these 28 American cities amounting to 11,981,000, there were 609 homicides. In the same 28 cities, with an increase in population which I will not burden you with but which is given here, it runs down--- this is for the last 25 years, from 1900 to 1925, inclusive--- from, 609 homicides in 1900 to 2,366 in 1925.
He has a striking table here of 78 American cities, for each of which he gives the population and the homicides in 1924, with the rate per 100,000, and the population and the homicides and the rate per 100,000 for 1925. I shall not attempt to read them all to you, but if any of you should be interested in any particular city---
Senator REED of Missouri. I would like to have you put them in the record.
Judge TALLEY. All of them?
Senator REED of Missouri. Yes.
Judge TALLEY. I shall be glad to do so. I can not give you this copy, but I will submit it, if I may, later.
(The tabulation referred to is set out in full following the testimony of this witness.)
Judge TALLEY. First let me take the larger cities, and then if any others are desired I will give them.
Birmingham, Ala., in 1924 had 136 murders, and in 1925 had 112. In Chicago--- note the population change, practically the same. The population given here is 2,900,484 in 1924 with 509 murders. With a population of 2,995,239 in 1925--- not an appreciable change in a great city-the number of murders increased from 509 to 563, or by 18.8 per 100,000.
Cincinnati, Ohio, had 64 homicides in 1924 and 87 in 1925. Detroit had 211 homicides in 1924 and 243 in 1925. Houston, Tex., had 28 homicides in 1924, and in 1925 there were 45.
92101*-26--VOL. 1---- 11
Memphis, Tenn., had 120 homicides in 1924 and 103 in 1925. New Orleans had 135 in 1924 and 154 in 1925.
New York City had 387 homicides in 1924 and 374 in 1925, and the rate Is only 6.4 per 100,000, very much lower than in many of these other cities that I am giving.
In Philadelphia there were 149 murders in 1924 and 192 in 1925. In St. Louis there 164 murders in 1924 and 163 in 1925. In Washington, D. C., in 1924 there were 54 murders and in 1925 there were 61.
That condition of affairs, gentlemen, it seems to me is appalling. There is less excuse for crime and there is less excuse for murder--- there is less excuse for any kind of crime in a free Government like ours than in any other country in the rest of the world, and yet we are staggering under the indictment of being the most lawless country on the face of the earth, and the comparison that is made in this summary and that has frequently been made between our murder record, our larceny record, our burglary record, and our record for any of the crimes of violence or passion with that of European countries should make us blush with shame.
Now, my opinion may not be worth very much, but I am going, to State it if I may. I think that the man worth his salt that is dealing with things of this kind, as I have for nearly the last 10 years, charged with the responsibility of enforcing the criminal law as prosecutor and judge--- a man worth his salt would be the man that would try to philosophize a little bit and try to get at the reason for these things.
Senator MEANS. Not only the reason but the remedy?
Judge TALLEY. If the reason can be found the remedy must be sought. That is what we who have thought about these things have tried to do, and I say, gentlemen, the conclusion is irresistible, examining these figures, that the increase of crimes of violence or passion the increase of intoxication, the breakdown of the administration of the law, can be traced primarily to the disrespect for law which has been engendered in the minds of young and old, of high and low, especially by the operation of this prohibition law. When I state that I state it solemnly, and I state it as my conviction, with no personal predilection in the matter one way or the other, and I state it, as I know it, as the calm, deliberate judgment of the men who are associated with me for the past five years upon that great criminal bench that handles more criminal cases than any other court in the world.
Senator MEANS. You say, the prohibition law. You mean the eighteenth amendment?
Judge TALLEY. I mean the eighteenth amendment and the enabling act that has followed it, which is called the Volstead Act.
Senator MEANS. To help us in the discussion that we must meet a little later on, I am asking, so as to separate them. Do you believe that we should repeal the eighteenth amendment?
Senator HARRELD. Do you recommend that as a remedy?
Judge TALLEY. I have not come prepared to discuss remedies as much as I have to, present facts, but I will state it in answer to your question.
I believe the country would be immeasurably better off and that crime would be reduced tremendously if the eighteenth amendment were repealed, but I am not sanguine enough to suggest that that is likely to be done. But I do think that you gentlemen are having
presented to you now, through these bills that I have had an opportunity to look at without studying them very carefully, a means of effecting a remedy which will undoubtedly better conditions, so far as the administration of law is concerned in this country.
Senator MEANS. That is what I was coming to Judge. You anticipated me just a little bit. Will you point out to the committee, if you care to. just how this bill, which I gather from the proponents, Mr. Codman, Senator Edge, and the Congressman who just spoke to us--- the bill known as the intoxicating in fact bill, will remedy the situation you have described?
Judge TALLEY. Senator, I do not wish to discuss the effect of these various bills with you. I have not come here as an advocate for that purpose; I have come here to present such facts and such conclusions as are justified by my experience based upon present-day conditions. If Congress will face the facts as I see them I am willing to trust to the good judgment and the common sense and the patriotism of Congress to find a remedy. But if you want me to enter into a legal argument with you give me another day, Senator.
Senator MEANS. You are a good deal like Governor Lowden when he addressed the Agricultural Committee. His speech was wonderful, pointing out the conditions of agriculture, and then they asked him to point out a remedy, and his reply was, "I have implicit faith in the Congress of the United States being able to find the proper remedy." I would rather have your specific statement, if you care to give it, as to just what you think of the bills, because the burden imposed upon this subcommittee is directed to the legislation now proposed and not a general discussion. We want to know the conditions, but we also want to know the remedy. And then we want to go to the next step, Are the bills so proposed, or any of them, such as will remedy the condition you portray? If so, I would like to know how you arrive at that conclusion.
Judge TALLEY. In my judgment it would be a remedy, and a practical and immediate remedy, if beer and light wines were supplied. I do not think the country would give a whoop if they could get those openly, not secretly, not under cover--- if they could get those I do not think the country at large would give a whoop about hard liquor. I think if you are seeking a remedy there is the first step.
I am in accord with what an eminent and capable man, President Butler, of Columbia University, says about this matter, that he believes the eighteenth amendment should be repealed. I am in accord with that. There are thousands and thousands of the best-thinking people, sober minded, the finest citizens in New York State, that are of the same same opinion. Does that answer your question?
Senator MEANS. It does.
Senator REED of Missouri. May I ask you a question?
Judge TALLEY. I just want two minutes, if you please, when you are through, if I may have it.
Senator REED of Missouri. Certainly, Judge, you may if you desire. I wanted to get, before you leave the stand, your ideas about two things.
You have spoken about one reason for the increase of real crime; that is, acts that are malum in se instead of malum prohibitum; You spoke of disrespect for law, and you said that was one of the great causes. Is not another reason for the commission of these
crimes and the failure to apprehend the criminals the fact that much money is expended and so much energy is expended chasing people who are selling a glass of beer or bootlegging beer and whisky instead of employing the police force and the constabulary to apprehend the real criminals? Is not that one of the contributing reasons?
Judge TALLEY. Why, I think it may be a contributing cause, but I do not know how great a cause. I think they are pretty vigilant in New York trying to apprehend the criminals, but the wave is so high that it overwhelms them.
Senator REED of Missouri. In regard to the enforcement of the Volstead Act, can there ever be anything like an effective enforcement of that act, in your opinion, unless the waiters and the bootleggers and the purveyors of the liquor are arrested?
Judge TALLEY. Senator, in my opinion, there never can be an enforcement of the Volstead Act under any conditions or circumstances, In my judgment the Army and Navy of the United States could not enforce the Volstead Act, because it is a law without public sanction that has not got the public approval. Down in the heart of every man he believes that it is an invasion of his personal rights and preferences, and it can not be enforced, in my opinion, no matter what the methods employed to enforce it may be.
Senator REED of Missouri. Thank you, Judge.
Senator HARRELD. You were frank enough to say that you believed the real remedy is to repeal the eighteenth amendment?
Judge TALLEY. Yes.
Senator HARRELD. But you said that an immediate remedy, in your judgment, was the enactment of these laws repealing the Volstead Act and providing for light wines and beers. Now, how do you arrive at the conclusion that to increase the volume of potable liquors for drinking purposes, in the form of light wines and beers, would make a decrease of criminals and drinking? The trouble now is that you have got too much bootleg whisky--- too many bootleg drunks. If you increase that volume by throwing open the doors to sell light wines and beers, and the various degrees of intoxication that it may bring about, is that not like giving poison to cure poison?
Judge TALLEY. Oh, no, sir.
Senator HARRELD. I do not understand the logic.
Judge TALLEY. Well, I will try and explain. If I have any logic in the matter I will try to make it clear to you. I do not think the premise upon which you arrive at your conclusion is sound.
Senator REED of Missouri. Of course, you will pardon me, the Senator is from Oklahoma and they do not know what strong drink is in his State.
Senator HARRELD. On the contrary, that is the only kind we have.
Senator REED of Missouri. The whole question is a mystery in Oklahoma.
Judge TALLEY. Senator, in my judgment the bootleg whisky as an institution, if it can be called that, would disappear with the bootlegger if the people had free access to the lighter and nonintoxicating beverages. The bootlegger's occupation would be gone. The "speak-easy" would be destroyed. The poisonous stuff that is destroying the health of the people of this country would be at an end. The thing would not have the lure of the forbidden thing if it was out in the open.
Senator HARRELD. On the other hand, would it not create an appetite immediately for strong drink when they could get these others?
Judge TALLEY. I think it would have exactly the opposite effect. Instead of increasing the appetite for strong drink it would take away the necessity for strong drink. It would destroy the appetite rather than increase it.
Senator HARRELD. I understand fully your position, but I can hardly subscribe to it.
Judge TALLEY. I did not expect that all the committee would, but I am mere stating my position.
Now, I might conclude with just this, and this is a little bit in the way of expression of opinion, but it is the summary of my experience. I want to say this, gentlemen, to you.
For the first time in our history full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.
It is a, law without a sanction; a law that can not be enforced, and such a law is one that nature and the best instincts of a free people abhor.
It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.
It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.
Because the "Anti-Saloon League," which arrogates to itself the dubious credit of having foisted this thing upon a listless people, claims to be a religious organization, it has brought into government an arrogant interference of religion, contrary and abhorrent to one of the cherished ideals of American Government.
The oft-reiterated promise that the abolition of liquor would diminish crime has been given the lie. Since the enactment of this law and largely because of it, crime has increased throughout the Nation, it has become a great national problem and we stand disgraced under the irrefutable indictment of having become the most lawless nation upon the face of the earth.
It has substituted for the saloon that trafficked in the open, that was regulated by enforceable law, that paid its taxes to the Government, the secret, clandestine, unregulated and migratory "speak-easy" that breeds in stealth and secrecy the degradation of a free people.
It has attempted through Congress to do what the wisest and most astute of men never attempted to do--- define what is intoxicating liquor, disregarding the truth and the indisputable fact that it is not the use but the abuse of intoxicants that can ever make them obnoxious or injurious.
It has attempted to legislate morality into the hearts of men usurping the province of religion and the love and fear of God.
It as essayed to do an impossible thing to interfere with and dictate the personal habits and preferences of humanity which the experience of mankind and the history of all nations have proven can not be successfully accomplished.
It has destroyed our sacred Bill of Rights, it has made us the scorn of other nations, it has made sneaks and hypocrites of the once fearless and straightforward and chivalrous American people.
That is all I have to say, gentlemen.
Senator MEANS. Thank you.
(The table, "Homicides in 77 American cities," presented by Judge Talley, is here printed in the record, as follows:)
159 * * * * * THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW * * * * *
TESTIMONY OF DR. WILLIAM C. WOODWARD, 535 NORTH DEARBORN STREET, CHICAGO, ILL.
(The Witness was duly sworn by Senator Means, chairman of the Subcommittee.)
Senator MEANS. Doctor Woodward, give your full name to the reporter.
Doctor WOODWARD. William C. Woodward, appearing as the representative of the American Medical Association. My address is 535 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, Ill.
Senator MEANS. Go ahead in your own way, Doctor.
Doctor WOODWARD. I Want to make it clear that so far as the American Medical Association is concerned its interest lies solely in the question of the medicinal use of liquor and what I shall say will have reference only to that. With the larger question of the prohibition of the use of liquors as beverages the American Medical Association as an organization is not concerned.
In the effort to carry into effect the prohibition of the beverage use of liquor it was deemed necessary to apply certain restrictions on the medicinal use of liquor. There is no question under the law as to the necessity or the advisability of the use of liquor in medicine.
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