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Prior to the start of World War II, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI declared dead the criminal networks established by violent career gangsters during the Prohibition Era. By 1950, America’s attention was focused on the Cold War, Communism, and suspected Soviet subversion plots.
As the FBI continually denied the existence of organized crime, a new American mafia was establishing legitimate businesses as covers for racketeering, drug trafficking, and loansharking. Bribes to local police and politicians bought protection from investigation.
In 1949 the American Municipal Association pushed for the U.S. Congress to investigate. Despite Hoover’s continued denials, the resulting Kefauver Committee proceedings in the U.S. Senate—televised in March 1951 and watched by approximately 30 million Americans—concluded:
"As the result of the committee's activities there exists a great public awareness of the nature and extent of organized crime. The public now knows that the tentacles of organized crime reach into virtually every community throughout the country. It also knows that law enforcement is essentially a local matter calling for constant vigilance at the local level and a strengthening of public and private morality."
It is this state of affairs that Maine State Prison Warden Allan L. Robbins references as “a tremendous upsurge in public interest recently concerning the relationship between law-enforcement officials and the so-called “underworld”…” in the prologue of his compiled history about penology and operation of the Maine State Prison from 1824 to 1953.
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Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | United States History
Robbins, Allan L., "Information Regarding the Maine State Prison, Thomaston, Maine 1824-1953" (1953). Maine Bicentennial. 123.