Our Lawless Police: A Study of the Unlawful Enforcement of the Law

By: Hopkins, Ernest Jerome

Price: $100.00

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(no dust jacket) [ex-private library, with three small "call numbers" written in white ink on the spine (keyed to some individualized cataloging methodology); the book itself is solid and clean, with a few interesting "extras" added by its one-time owner: his bookplate (Howard Hamilton Bliss, featuring a photo of himself out rock-climbing), several small summary reviews of the book affixed to the ffep, and a five-line pencilled critique of the book (apparently a quote from an "H.E. Barnes" at the bottom of the page)]. This exposé of police brutality grew out of the acknowledgment of government officials that Prohibition, instituted in 1919, had created huge enforcement problems, was widely evaded by the American public, and had contributed substantially to the rise of organized crime. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover in 1929 created the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement to look into the matter and come up with recommendations on how to address the problem through public policy. Generally known as the Wickersham Commission (after its head, former U.S. Attorney General George W. Wickersham), the 11-member group's investigations documented various negative effects of Prohibition on American society (including, surprise surprise, widespread public contempt for the law), but came down hardest of all on the police. On the one hand, they were heavily criticized for their failure to detect and apprehend the criminals (often due to corruption in their own ranks, and at various levels of government), and in addition they were hammered for being too rough on suspects when they DID detain them -- sort of a "damned if you don't and damned if you do" situation. It's this latter aspect that this book focuses on, going into great detail about brutal interrogation methods, the use of false arrest and prolonged detention, etc., and concluding (in the words of the pencil-quoted H.E. Barnes) that "the lawlessness of our law-enforcing officers is greater than that of our criminals." If you've been reading the news at all, much of what is "exposed" in this now-83-year-old book will sound shockingly contemporary, like this quote, picked at random from page 153: "First, a constabulary with too much petty authority over every class of the population will get an exalted notion of itself, [and] will be bound to develop the 'I'm the Law' attitude." Sound vaguely familiar? (It's worth noting that the book's preface is by Zechariah Chafee Jr., one of the authors of the Wickersham Commission's original report and later the author of the landmark 1941 book "Free Speech in the United States.")

Title: Our Lawless Police: A Study of the Unlawful Enforcement of the Law

Author: Hopkins, Ernest Jerome

Categories: Crime and the Law,

Edition: Reprint

Publisher: New York, The Viking Press: 1931

ISBN Number: NO

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Seller ID: 20925

Keywords: Crime Police Brutality Corruption