Juvenile Delinquency and
the Freedom Train
Attorney General Tom Clark… has embarked on one of the most
unusual crusades ever undertaken by a cabinet officer.
Boston Post, February 7, 1946
EACH NEW ADMIN ISTRATION is swept into a powerful stream of current issues that must be dealt with immediately, and individual cabinet members inherit, rather than select, most of the controversies that face them. Opportunities for choice do exist, however, and the independent projects that cabinet members undertake often reveal a great deal about their priorities and characters. Tom Clark initiated two major projects as attorney general: a campaign against juvenile delinquency and the Freedom Train.
My father’s concern about crime began when he was assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division, where he learned a great deal about the problem and developed strong opinions on how to handle it. After he became attorney general, he expressed his views in a memo to President Truman:
As an aftermath of the stresses of the war, we are threatened with a crime
wave even more vicious and widespread than that which occurred after
the first World War. We can meet this threat, first of all, by concerted effort
toward the achievement of prosperity and a high standard of living for all
our people. Honest and well-paid employment must be made available to
all. Secondly, we must, each of us as a matter of patriotic duty, so conduct
ourselves as not to encourage any form of violation of law.1