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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essay on Al Capone - Analysis of Causes of Crime

 Essay on Al Capone  - Analysis of Causes of Crime

Introduction
Gangs and gangsters have been in existence for several centuries already.  Some historians say that the word thug started in India in the year 1200 AD.  At that time the word thug meant a gang of criminals that roamed the country pillaging towns in their course. (Lou Savelli, 2001)  
In the United States, gang problems are said to have started in 17th Century when the migration started.   In the 18th Century, gang problem became worse as the new generation of immigrants continue to enter the United States.  During this time, Irish gangs like Whyos, Dead Rabbits and Plug Uglies and Jewish gangs like the Monk Eastman Gang brought terror in New York City streets (Lou Savelli, 2001).   In the 19th Century, the most notorious gang was formed – the Five Points Gang. 
One of the most notorious members of the Five Points Gang was a young boy of Italian descent in the name of Alphonse Capone also known as Scarface.  His whole life was an illustration of the power and influence of organized crime in the United States during the 19th Century (“Al Capone”).  
He was born on January 17, 1899 to Immigrant parents who came from Naples, Italy.  He was the fourth of nine children of Gabriel Capone and Teresa Capone.  In search for the land of milk and honey, Gabriel Capone and Teresa Capone migrated to the United States.  Their gamble however did not pay off as they experienced poverty and misery in the United Stats.  Gabriel Capone could not manage to support his family.  Poor and illiterate, he only managed to get a job as a grocer and as a barber in one of the barbershops in Brooklyn (David Wallechinsky, 1981).  Gabriel Capone could not even pay for the family’s monthly rate.  As a result, Teresa had to work as a dressmaker leaving nobody to give guidance to their nine children.  The family finally settled in Brooklyn where Gabrielle Capone managed to open his own barbershop.
It was in this neighborhood where Al Capone grew up.  The neighborhood in Brooklyn was known not only for being rat infested but also for gangs such as the

Navy Street
boys, James Street Gang and South Brooklyn Ripper (“Alphonse Capone”).  Al Capone had become a member of these gangs.  It was a rough neighborhood for the Capone family.  Because of lack of guidance from his busy parents who tried very hard to make ends meet Al Capone was expelled from school for hitting his female teacher.  Though he did not get much schooling as a child, he had a lot of “street smart” and he was quick to get decent jobs (“Al Capone Biography”, 2002).   At an early age, Al Capone was able to find honest jobs.  Some of his early jobs include working as a clerk in a candy store and working as a cutter in a book bindery (“Alphonse Capone”).
Gabrielle and Teresa decided to transfer to another neighborhood –

Garfield Place
.  It was here where Al Capone met his future crime boss, Jonny Torrio (“Al Capone Biography”, 2002).  Johnny Torrio was businessman who was known for observing Code of Honor as a gangster (Tenna Perry, 2002).  As a young man, Al Capone ran errands for Johnny Torrio who was known for his gambling and brothel businesses.  At the age of 18, Al Capone met Frankie Loele.  Unlike Johnny Torio, Frankie Loele was known for inflicting fear, callousness and physical brutality.  Al Capone worked as a bouncer and bartender in his bar.  It was in an incident inside Frankie Loele’s bar that Capone earned his nickname Scarface. 
It was believed that Al Capone insulted a female customer telling that “Honey, you have a nice ass and I mean that as a compliment.” It was very unfortunate, however, that she was with her brother, Frank Gallucio, at that time.  A fight soon erupted.   Frank then took out his knife which had a sharp blade and slashed Al Capone’s cheeks several times which resulted in scars.  Subsequently, the two managed to sort their differences because of the intervention of Frankie Loele.  Al Capone apologized and Frank paid the cost of damages to Al.  
At the age of 19, Capone met and fell in love with Mae Coughlin, an Irish girl.  Al married her soon after she gave birth to their son, Albert Francis Capone.  At that time, it was unknown to both of them that Sonny as infected by congenital syphilis (Tenna Perry, 2002).  Because of his desire to give a respectable life to Mae and Sonny, Al Capone moved to Baltimore and got a job as a bookkeeper in a construction firm.  Al Capone’s fortune started to change when he was contacted by Johnny Torrio who offered him a job as his main man for managing his many brothels.   He eventually rose to the ranks and for a very short time became Johnny Torrio’s business partner.  When Johnny Torrio left Chicago Al had the opportunity to manage the entire organization on his own.  He was able to reorganize the entire organization and became one of the fiercest gangsters.   In 1930 Al was ranked by the government as public enemy number one.
Among the crimes he committed were managing illegal businesses such as brothels, nightclubs, and race tracks, murder, bribery of police officers, politicians, judges, juries, and tax evasion.

Analysis
Labeling Theory can aptly explain the criminal behavior of Al Capone.  Labeling theory stresses the impact of society on behavior of certain individuals.  It states that the labels we attach to individuals exert influence on them such that these individuals are unconsciously forced to live up to these labels.  Specifically, by labeling a particular individual as a criminal or a felon or a convict we end up even promoting more deviant and criminal behavior.  Sociologist Howard Becker states that:
Deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is a behavior that people so label." (“Labeling Theory”)
It cannot be denied that the society has the tendency to label people and things.  The people, however, are not conscious of the negative unintended effects of these labeling.  It may happen that the act of labeling may scare a person and help him reform.  Psychologists, however say that labeling has the negative effect of pushing the person farther away from the society.  Persons who are labeled as criminals lose interest in conforming to the laws.  They then live up to the label that the society has placed upon them.  Thus, Labeling Theory suggests that crime is not a result of free will but rather actions of individuals who had a criminal status placed upon them by both the criminal justice system and the society. 
It is worth stressing that Al Capone was not born a criminal.  During his younger years, he attempted to earn an honest living working as a clerk and as a cutter. He even attended public schooling.  At the time he was married, his wife who was a devout catholic insisted on Al leaving his criminal ways and earning an honest leaving which Al Capone did, during the early years of their marriage. 
Yet, the world was harsh for Al Capone.  He was surrounded by thugs as a young boy.  At a very young age, he got associated with gangsters as he was trying to earn a living to support his family.  Though he attempted to leave his criminal ways behind him, it would seem that the society always tried to lure him back as he was contacted by his former boss, Johnny Torrio, to join him once again. 
Based on these facts, it is clear that there are some people were not born criminal.  Some of these individuals even worked very hard in an attempt to earn an honest living.  There are however some forces which are beyond man’s control that lure man to engaging in criminal activities.  This should be taken into account by judges and juries in imposing prison sentences against suspects. 

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