Law Observance: Shall the People of the United States Uphold the Constitution?

By W. Durant C. | Go to book overview

ONLY LAW OBSERVERS FOR PROHIBITION ENFORCERS

John Rustgard Attorney General, Alaska

THE problem of how best to carry into effect the 18th Amendment reduces itself to the question of how to eliminate the causes which are responsible for the government's present failure in this particular field. The leading one of those causes is not difficult to find. It is obvious. Nor is it difficult of eradication, or, at least, of material abating.

The present lamentable debacle is undoubtedly due primarily to the dishonesty of officials charged with the detection, prosecution and punishment of the offenders.

This evil is, at least to a very decisive extent, remediable, because, contrary to popular belief, the government has not heretofore, as I shall endeavor to demonstrate, made any serious effort to obtain conscientious officials for this work. Very frequently individuals well known to be dishonest and otherwise unfit are appointed.

What would happen if the custom houses were turned over to smugglers, and the enforcement of the law against larceny were entrusted to dealers in stolen goods? The question sounds absurd, but the administration at Washington has in the past so very generally selected the officers of the legal and judiciary machinery from among those who have been and are patrons of bootleggers and as such accessories of the crime they are required to prosecute and punish.

In order to emphasize this feature of the present system, let me cite, by way of illustration, a few incidents which have come under my own observation.

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