Crime: The Role of Women
We are not going to let some lawyers run the corporation court for the benefit of these women. We will protect their constitutional rights but we don't see any reason to let them out of jail 15 minutes after they are put in just because some lawyer signs a bond for them.
-- MayorMaury Maverick, announcing "war on prostitutes," July 10, 1939'
DURING its long history as a military and trading center, San Antonio developed a reputation for a high crime rate and a tolerance of vice. As mayor, Maury Maverick was no more systematic or successful in suppressing prostitution and other forms of vice than were the less-determined public officials who preceded him. Throughout the 1920s and the 1930s prostitution flourished in the city, uninhibited by its illegality. The prevalence of prostitution, and the reality that the city quasi-legalized its existence through an inadequate though official prostitute-registration program, reflected both the absence of dedicated civic leadership and the indifference of San Antonio citizens. Maverick was the first progressive to occupy the office of mayor, but he did little to alter the situation. In a city where crime and politics had a long association and the local court system was grossly overburdened, the problems of law enforcement could not be solved by administrators besieged by the needs of the unemployed and the hungry.
San Antonio had both a hospitable environment for the criminal and peculiar socioeconomic characteristics that encouraged particular criminal activities among women. As one San Antonian described the general attitude toward crime in his hometown:
Crime and rackets of all varieties increase annually here as criminals flock in from places where the law is sterner. The word has got around in jails and hobo jungles the country over that San Antonio is a "red-hot" town where it is easy for a smart crook to get by.2
San Antonio Light, July 10, 1939.