Crime in a Free Society: Selections from the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice

By Robert W. Winslow | Go to book overview

6 Professional crime

Existing information about professional crime is fragmentary, and much of it may be outdated. A primary source is Edwin H. Sutherland's classic description of theft as a way of life, "The Professional Thief," but that work, though helpful, was published in 1937 and describes the life of a thief in the period between 1905 and 1925. Other books published since have focused on particular types of criminal activity normally engaged in by professionals including confidence game operations, 1 pick‐ pocketing, 2 professional robbery and burglary, 3 and receiving stolen goods. 4 These few studies provide the basic information on professional crime available in the literature.Although differences in emphasis and coverage exist among them, they present a reasonably coherent, though necessarily incomplete, description of certain types of professional criminal activity.

In order to supplement this material, the Commission sponsored a pilot field research study in four cities— Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco—during the summer of 1966. 5 The study differed from previous research in that it used police and prosecutors as well as professional criminals as primary informants.Each consultant spent approximately half of his field time, or about 10 days, conferring with police and district attorneys on the problems of professional crime in their cities. In addition, some of the consultants observed the police in action and examined relevant materials in the files of special intelligence units. Law enforcement agents provided most of the leads to professional criminals. 6

____________________
1
D. W. Maurer, The Big Con ( New York: Pocketbooks, Inc., 1949).
2
D. W. Maurer, Whiz Mob ( New Haven: College and University Press, 1955).
3
J. B. Martin, My Life in Crime ( New York: Harper, 1952).
4
See J. Hall, Theft, Law, and Society (2nd ed., Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1952).
5
The Office of Law Enforcement Assistance, Justice Department, funded the project. Brandeis University administered the project grant.The project's coordinator was Professor Leroy Gould of Yale University.He was assisted by 5 field consultants, 2 advisors, and 1 research assistant.
6
Some of those contacted through the police referred the staff to other professional criminals.

-163-

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Crime in a Free Society: Selections from the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Crime in a Free Society - Selections from the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: The Amount and Trends of Crime 34
  • 3: Criminal Statistics —an Urgently Needed Resource 73
  • 4: The Etiology of Crime 106
  • 5: The Ecology of Crime 142
  • 6: Professional Crime 163
  • 7: White-Collar Crime 175
  • 8: Organized Crime 191
  • 9: Narcotics and Drug Abuse 217
  • 10: Drunkenness Offenses 248
  • 11: The Police 257
  • 12: The Courts 289
  • 13: Corrections 324
  • 14: A National Strategy 361
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