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Prospect. Of a union. A. In my opinion Mr. Greenwood the problem of crime in the United States should be of greater concern to our citizens than the issue of our involvement in the Vietnam War. The voice you just heard was that of the Honorable Luther young dog senior United States district court judge for the District of Columbia. And our guest this week on the n e our Washington forum a weekly program concerned with the significant issues before us as a nation. This week crime in America a view from the bench. I mean we are a public affairs director Bill Greenwood our guest judge Luther young Dalt served as a member of the Minnesota State Supreme Court from 1942 to 47 he was
governor of Minnesota from 1947 to 51 and since 1951 he has served as United States district court judge here in the nation's capital. He has also been a member of the president's Crime Commission. Judge Young dollar recently on our show we talked with the United States Representative Richard POF of Virginia. And at that time he outlined the concern he had as a legislator for about America's growing crime problem. How do you as a jurist and former member of the president's Crime Commission view this matter of crime. Why I view this this issue in matter of crime Mr. Greenwood equally is that arming is Congressman POF and many others as matter of fact the very very fact that the present United States felt it necessary to in point point to 19 member crime commission to study the causes of crime and mandated this commission to report to him by January 1967. I think it
points to the significance of this problem. After a year and a half study this a crime commission very made a very comprehensive report and the important consideration to be kept in mind concerning this Crime Commission report is that it will serve the same fate as the Wickersham Commission report which was made in 1931 to another president unless the recommendations of this report are implemented. There are already signs that these recommendations are being implemented by local and state crime commissions. One of the suggestions of their proposed report is that citizens all citizens have to become involved themselves in this crime problem. Not only have to read it come streaming press and cry aloud at the at the amount of crime and then do nothing about it that they themselves have to become involved. Have to write letters and send telegrams to their congressman and senators have to take an interest.
And the local communities that marched to the city hall and see to it that the laws are enforced in their local community and become actively and individually involved and so on. I feel that a great step forward has been made in this report and is continually being made in the implementation of the recommendations of this report. What were some of the major recommendations of the Crime Commission. Your Honor. Well I would consider the result itself into two major categories you can divide it into further categories of fun with just two but two major categories. First the matter of improvement of enforcement then the matter of of concern for our penal institutions themselves. And second and more importantly I think the matter of prevention and first place our police departments have to be better staffed better paid better trained. And our penal
institutions need more facilities more personnel so that in instead of graduating recidivist that is repeaters of crime. We can teach him more of occasional guidance and better education. And when they're released from the penal institutions they will become self-respecting citizens instead of repeaters as most of them will become known. But more and the more important the general recommendation of the crime report has to do with causes stamping out the roots of crime because it becomes a vicious circle in my opinion. If we do not eliminate illiteracy unemployment the slum areas. If we do not provide better vocational training for our youngsters in the high schools and many of whom drop out and the minute you have a dropout from high school you've got a potential juvenile delinquent who is without a job and is going out the street is so drugs are getting the numbers rackets or
some other illegal activity. We can cry all we want about trying to make the judges scapegoats by more intensive punishment but more severe punishment is simply not the answer to stamping out crime. That isn't to suggest that we can pin badges on these individuals when they're convicted of a crime put him out on the street. That isn't to suggest that we do not have to protect our citizens on the streets or that they can walk safely there on not only in the one time but even in the daytime. By more efficient law enforcement and by more by a greater amount of cruising of our police scout cars we can get better protection for our citizens. But this will not stamp out crime. We cannot really make a real dent in the crime problem according to the recommendation of the crime report and it is my sincere conviction that this is correct unless we stamp out the roots of crime.
Judge Young dog you talk about crime breakers. There are a lot of people who are indifferent to or casual about the small laws parking restrictions speed limits things like this. Is it possible in your opinion as a judge for a fairly good citizen to observe and respect the laws which are convenient for them to observe and overlook and or ignore inconvenient laws. And you know I don't think it is possible I think. I think Mr. Greenwood this is a very relevant question. It is a very good example for the youngster when the youngster sees a parent violate the traffic law and then attempt to tell the officer that he was not guilty of the violation. I recall the incident that is told of the father who had been stopped by a traffic officer for a violation of a traffic law and after they all said Lefty slapped his young tune and said to his youngster didn't I tell you to look out for the cops.
Can you say that there's any kind of a relationship between the little lawbreaker which we're just talking about in the so-called big lawbreaker. No I don't I don't I don't think I think there's too much of a disparity be between the little so called Little Brother a lawbreaker and when I when you mention the big law breaker I assume you're almost getting in the category of organized crime. Well perhaps a felony sound like Lancer. Well it sometimes begins with smaller violations as in looking at these present reports of the probation officer certainly we see in the early beginning of the life of the criminal in the juvenile court even attend 11 years of age. The Commission of the smaller offenses. You talk about parents setting a bad example when he tells his child to look out for the cop so to speak. How can the young people who are now in school prepare themselves so that when they are parents they can bring their children up to respect the law.
Well I think one of the ways that these youngsters can prepare themselves is by the way. Better type of programs being sponsored in the in the school systems and as an example I hope you'll forgive me Mr. Greenwood defile him with a sense of pride to mention my own home state of Minnesota I wish he would enter a program that is being sponsored by the Minnesota School of the air. For a young surgeon the early grades to teach them to have respect for the dignity of the law. This is so important because many of these youngsters come from even the so-called good homes where they do not get discipline. They do and they do not understand what respect for the law is because they are not taught it in their own homes and the school has to take up the slack. Radio stations such as years are taking up the slack by sponsoring this
type of a program every facility we have available should be used to take up the slack where the home breaks down and the youngsters can take advantage of these opportunities. I think of another way. That is illustrated in the lectures that I've given the high school students. And the last 10 years especially since I've been on the federal court in Washington and many groups from high schools all over the country come to visit our nation's capital to see the points of historical interest. And they are brought into the courtroom and I make it a point to give them a half hour lecture on the separation of powers the three important branches of our government the legislative judicial and the executive and the importance of courts having an independent judiciary in our country is so important having respect for the laws to be interpreted in with by that independent judiciary is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. And one of the ways a students can can get their respect
for the law is by being a part of these seminars that learn this lesson. Let's turn this issue around if we could for a moment and let me ask you conversely what parents can do to better instill these ideals in their children by simply being a better example. Mr. Greenwood they can preach. All day long and it will be empty superficial and meaningless unless it's backed up by good example. A careful man I want to be a little fellow follows me. I do not dare to go astray for fear he'll go the self-same way. Example. If that youngster sees that parent disobey a law and naturally will follow in the same footsteps proverb says Train Up a Child in the way she will go in that free zone he will follow after you and I think that's still a pretty good lesson for us to have in mind. There's been a great deal of concern or interest perhaps is a better
word. Recently sociologists have have come to the realization that just as many upper class families have problems with their children as do the lower classes and middle classes would all this border on the fact that economic and social status has nothing to do with being a good example so to speak. Well I think I get them again social status has something to do with it but it doesn't necessary to decry the proposition that. There is a lack of respect for law among the better class families certainly there is great evidence of lack of respect for the young the so-called superficially good homes. I think something quite related to that is a philosophy that many people seem to have which is that a law is not broken unless the law breaker is caught. Obviously that's untrue but does not this attitude stem somewhat from a lack of understanding of just what the law is how it
works the people's responsibility toward that law. Yes most certainly it does and it's certainly true that there are many people feel that the law is not broken unless they're caught and medivac when that is significant. Reports in the president's Crime Commission indicate a vastly greater number is a vastly greater number of unreported crimes than there are reported crimes and were trying to improve our statistics so that we can have reported all of the crimes that are committed is as efficient as our of the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics. It is recognized that we have to do much greater research in order to have reporting crimes. Many people don't want to report crime because they don't want to be messed up and with them many police officers even do not file charges because if you well possibly that they will not be successful prosecution. But I think this is the wrong
attitude to take and we've got to teach our youngsters that merely because they are not caught that they still violate the law as a matter of fact they must be taught early that there are rules of the game. And when a rule is violated that some type of punishment will surely and quickly follow. I think that is the greatest deterrent of all in that very same line many law enforcement agents as well as members of Congress have charged that the United States Supreme Court is through some of its rulings recently blocking the efforts of law enforcement agencies in securing this type of eye for an eye tooth for tooth sort of thing. Do you feel the Supreme Court is in fact somewhat sheltering the criminal. No I don't agree with that opinion at all Mr. Greenwood. This beam court obviously is a liberal so-called liberal branch if you want to have one month's use labels has extended it as a protection at the state level for
the protection which have been given to citizens and the United States Constitution to the Malory role through the U.S. could be doing Miranda cases. The confessions are not permissible to be receiving evidence now without definite warnings being made to the defendant who hasn't a lawyer is provided with a lawyer with funds to secure a lawyer if he can get one. I don't think this is going to interfere with efficient law enforcement in the long run at all it does mean of course. To be realistic about it that the police departments have to do better investigative job does mean that they have to be better staffed we have to get better trained police officers. But they might as well be realistic about it and not to continually criticize the Supreme Court without doing anything about being more progressive in their investigative efforts. And I have found since the Supreme Court opinions have come down as far as the cases I have tried that it hasn't hampered to any
substantial extent in all the convictions of defendants charges crime. Judge we hear often and we we were just talking about people breaking some of the small laws. If a person feels the law doesn't represent what he feels is best how should he go about changing that as opposed to breaking it. Well. I think that's a most relevant question I'm glad you asked me that because it gives me a chance to put in a plug for a certain law that I asked for when I was governor of Minnesota. The fundamental concerns which motivate me in this matter of law enforcement are now as they always have been to fall first a deep conviction as to the necessity of protecting our Boyles and boys and girls and secondly a profound respect for the sanctity of the laws being the very foundation of a democratic government. Now when I asked the. The legislature of Minnesota to pass an empty slot machine law in my first message to the legislature in January
47. This is when you were gov that's when I was governor and this was I was elected November Forty six in my first term and January away and during my first message I asked him for an empty slot machine lawn this was an enforcement law. We had a law on the books that made it a misdemeanor a crime for any place whether it was a liquor place or a beer parlor or a grocery store or drug store to maintain a slot machine. And believe it or not there were thousands of slot machines in drug stores and grocery stores where these youngsters 10 12 years of age would put in all their savings in these when I'm bandits that were set up 95 percent against them have lost their lives. And I simply asked for an enforcement measure which in simple terms I provided for the striking down the license elimination of the license of any establishment whether it was a grocery store or a drugstore liquor
place or a beer parlor that maintain a slot machine in violation of this law. Well I had a terrific battle in fact the Federal Bureau of Investigation one the driver of the state car to be on the lookout for Chicago gangsters that might try to force my car off the road. Well fortunately no no one took a pot shot at me during the legislative session. There were many people even after church service on Sunday morning when I attended church would come to me and said Mr. Governor aren't you naive. One people always gamble doesn't the farmer gamble when he plants a seed in the ground. Don't the ladies of a lady to Aid Society gamble when they count the number of beans in the jar. The Ladies Aid function well I said that's ridiculous we're not after this penny any staff we're after the racketeers with eight thousand slot machines in Minnesota the state was divided up into three areas. It was an eight million dollar Take that was going to these racketeers. I had concrete evidence of this by the hundred dollar franchise taxes that were paid to the federal government
and this was an anomaly that the federal government would collect the hundred dollar franchise tax knowing full well that the state level there would be a violation of law because the slot machine operator wouldn't fear the local police officer he'd play poker with them probably in the back room whereas he'd fear the federal officer and pay the hundred dollar franchise tax. So I won the battle and over night 8000 slot machines went out to Minnesota and they've never been back since and in my January 3rd 51 message to the legislature which was two years later I said this for my part I am more determined than ever before that Minnesota shall take the lead in vigilant and vigorous enforcement of the law. I have never been more certain than I am now that you and I were accurately reflecting the will of the people and ridding our state of the corrupting and degrading slot machine racket. The people of our state have indicated in no uncertain terms their belief that our
laws should be enforced. Just think of it Mr. Greenwood. What was happening before this. These slot machines were not of the state these youngsters of these smaller communities would see the long series walk by an establishment. Where the law was patently and openly being my lady how could just spec those young kids to have any respect for the law when the law enforcement officer himself permitted the law to be violated and this was my statement if you don't like the law now take it off the statute books as long as it's on the statute books less than force a law to maintain the respect for. Do you feel that lack of enforcement by law or law enforcement officials is a major problem today. I think it is a contributing problem. I don't I know it would be difficult to class it as a major problem because I'm so strong and in this matter of prevention in the roots of crime. But I I believe the enforcement area the enforcement
issue is tremendously important and that I have often said if you would give me 25 to 35 college strain men with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Away from the political influence under civil service who will handle who would could handle the enforcement in any large metropolitan area. As the chief executive of that city I could enforce the law then let the flat footers and do the traffic work and the other other jobs that didn't have to do with striking down the major violators. Federal Judge Luther young dollar. Talk about another problem right now and that's violence in the streets something that we've seen quite tragically this past summer. How do you react to the problem of civil disobedience in the mass scale to the laws of states in the country. Well of course Mr. Greenwood in my opinion there can't be any justification whatever for civil
disobedience under any form whatsoever whether it comes to the race question whether it comes to the matter of draft burning Cardew burning of draft cards or or in any area of life. I think this was clearly indicated by a very significant statement made by the Supreme Court of the United States recently reaffirming an opinion in a prior case when it said this the way to challenge the law is in the courts and not in the streets. And when these youngsters come before me for these lectures I try to impress upon them the fact that unless we can have law observance in this country of lawlessness completely breaks down we will have an AK. And our civilization will go the way is the ancient civilization did in the years past we can't we can't get the idea that we're so great and we're so strong merely because we're we're strong economically and where we're strong in other areas unless we are strong morally and spiritually.
And this area of respect for law gets into the moral and spiritual atmosphere. And this we maintain dignity for the law and respect for the law and to prevent this violence in the streets. I hate to forecast what is going to happen in our country in the future. We all march on the Pentagon a while back as you so well know did any of those cases come before your court. No not a single one came before the federal court some of them came before the court a general sessions are our marshals of course were alerted most of our marshals were taken away from our court on a Friday in fact our federal court had to be closed down on a Friday because we didn't have enough marshals to me to maintain our courtroom procedure. They were brought out to the Pentagon and briefed and and these cases were tried in the court of general sessions and the other ministerial courts in the other surrounding communities. As a matter of fact in connection with this whole integration situation the District of Columbia has been fortunate
that we haven't had a serious integration case tried in the District of Columbia and I think one of the reasons for that is that the superintendent of schools that got prepared for it long before the Brown decision and the United States 1954 we started integrating our schools. Are you a tough judge Mr. young dog. No I. I think I've been come to be known I think I hope I would be come to be known as as a martyr. I don't believe in coddling nor do I believe in the extreme measure. There's always a happy reasonable medium and that's what we've got to strive for and our democracy we have a way of going to extremes you know. The pendulum swings too far and one then brings too far in the other and we've got to bring it towards the middle. I always try to look at the situation both from the standpoint of protecting the society and also from the humane standpoint of the individual. Many times as a
matter of fact Mr. Greenwood the best protection we can give to society is by rehabilitating the individual and many of our people forget this merely incarcerating the individual and opinion is to say and very often it will be the poorest protection to society. If the individual is up for the first time no prior conviction probation costing one tenth of the amount that it does to incarcerate the individual. If we have the proper probation staff that can supervise individual try to get him a job rehabilitate the family and help them along in other ways. Probation is much better than incarceration especially for a first offender even for the protection of society because assuming the individual incarcerated is going to get out sooner or later unless we incarcerate them all for life and we haven't got enough coal in Fort Knox to build up and dentures reformatory to do that some people think we ought to do it but obviously that's ridiculous and they're going to come out these
people because 90 95 percent of the people who are incarcerated aren't the long termers they're the ordinary run of the mind offender who'll serve two to four six eight ten years and they're going to come out. And if we don't do a better job in the institution as I said before in preventing recidivism and in educating better criminals then we're we're we're going to have a lot of lawbreakers not I just sensed a man this morning. And in the probation report it was indicated that he had waged a one man crusade on crime what he had. I send someone to the youth corrections act for a term and nine years he's never learned a trade he is a dropout from eighth grade. Here he's going to learn a trade he's going to get more general education. Here will have to be let out in seven years and then on parole for two years but he can get out sooner if he properly accommodates himself into the training of the institution. And this
was recommended by the probation officer. And I feel it was a good recommendation and I followed it and impose that sentence and I think that young man I'm hopeful at least the junk man will come out of the youth corrections. Act commitment better citizen and lead a law abiding life. Judge we're running short on time. In summary you would say then that the real important thing is respect for the law. By all of the citizens of this country is that the gist of your thoughts. Yes I certainly would say so. If I have time for. There is a quotation that I think is one of the finest things I have ever read. It was the statement was made by one of the greatest Americans who ever lived the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln. And I think I can best summarize what I've been trying to say as to the significance of respect for law
Mr. Greenwood by quoting this statement Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln said let every American every lover of liberty every well-wisher of his posterity swear by the blood of the revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of our country never to tolerate their violation by others as a Patriots of 76 did to this part of the Declaration of Independence. So do the support of the Constitution and laws that every American pledges life and property and the sacred honor let every man remember that violate the laws to trample on the blood of his father and deter the charge of his own and his children's liberty. That reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools and seminaries and in colleges. Let it be written in primaries. Burning books in almanacs let it be preached from the pulpit proclaimed in the legislative halls and enforced in the courts of
justice in short. Let it become the political religion of the nation. In a good way to and I show. Thank you Your Honor. That was the honorable Luther young gong senior United States district judge for the District of Columbia a former governor and former Supreme Court member of the state of Minnesota and a former member of the president's Crime Commission. Judge Young Dawn has been our guest this week on the N E R. Washington forum. This program was produced for national educational radio by WMU FM. American University Radio in Washington D.C. It has heard a broad over Member Stations of the Armed Forces Radio Network. I many our public affairs director Bill Greenwood inviting you to listen again next week for another edition of the NDR Washington forum a weekly program concerned with the significant issues before us as a nation. This is the national educational radio network.
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NER Washington forum
Crime in America
Producing Organization
WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Hon. Luther Youngdahl, Senior United States District Court Judge for District of Columbia, on Crime in America: A View from the Bench.
Series Description
Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
Public Affairs
Media type
Host: Greenwood, Bill
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Youngdahl, Luther W., 1896-1978
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-43 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:50
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