What were some of the unintended consequences of Prohibition?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There were at least two major unintended consequences of Prohibition.  Both, not surprisingly, were bad.

First, and perhaps less importantly, Prohibition helped to reduce people’s respect for the law.  Prohibition seemed to cause people to actually want to drink more.  Going to places like speakeasies became cool and desirable.  This meant that all sorts of people who were otherwise law-abiding were all of a sudden flouting the law.  Breaking one law on a consistent basis can help cause people to have a more cavalier attitude towards the laws in general.

Second, and more importantly, Prohibition allowed organized crime to flourish.  Even after Prohibition was imposed, there was a huge demand for alcohol and for places in which to drink it.  Since making, transporting, and selling alcohol was illegal, it was up to criminals to meet this demand.  Since the demand was so high, the criminal gangs became rich.  They also became much more widespread.

In these ways, Prohibition had fairly serious unintended consequences that helped make America in some ways a more lawless place.

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