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The Great Depression

Crime and Criminals

History >> The Great Depression

Did crime increase during the Great Depression?

At first you may think that the tough times of the Great Depression would cause people to turn to crime, however, that wasn't necessarily the case. Although there aren't a lot of crime statistics from the era, most historians agree that crime rates did not increase during the Great Depression. Some suggest that crime even went down. This may have been because so many people were hard up, they were less likely to steal from each other.

Crime in the Movies

Crime became somewhat glorified by the movies at the start of the Great Depression. Gangster movies such as Scarface and The Public Enemy made being a criminal look cool and a good way to make a living. Around 1934, new laws were put in place that put restrictions on movies. One rule was that movies could not make criminals look like heroes.

Famous 1930s Criminals

Organized crime leaders and bank robbers often made the front page news. Many criminals became very famous during the Great Depression. In some cases, people looked at them as heroes. This was especially true with bank robbers as many people blamed greedy banks for taking away their homes and for causing the Great Depression.
Impact of Prohibition

The start of prohibition in 1919 prevented people from selling and transporting alcoholic beverages. This law gave rise to a new class of criminals called bootleggers that made their money smuggling liquor. Although prohibition ended in 1933, the criminal organizations that ran the illegal alcohol business were still in place.

Organized Crime

Organized crime had become a major problem in the 1920s due to prohibition. Even after prohibition was ended in 1933, the gangs that formed were still around. They continued to operate, but in different areas such as gambling and drugs.

Crowd Violence

Crowd violence and mobs were a problem in the early part of the Great Depression. There was a clash between police and communist marchers in New York City in 1930. There were also food riots that occurred in many cities in 1930 and 1931. In 1932, around 20,000 World War I veterans called the Bonus Army marched on Washington D.C. asking for their bonus pay. When President Hoover had them removed, several were injured or killed in the clash. The crowd violence eased once Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected.

Interesting Facts About Crime and Criminals During the Great Depression
Activities More About the Great Depression
Causes of the Great Depression
The End of the Great Depression
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Bonus Army
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History >> The Great Depression

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