Alphonse Capone, born 1899 in Brooklyn New York, is one of the most famous criminals of all time. Capone was known as the eventual leader of the feared Colosimo mob in the 1925s with such notorious criminals as Johnny Torrio and Lucky Luciano (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008). Also known in his affiliation with the historic St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on February14, 1929 in which seven members of the Bugs Moran mob was plastered with machine gun bullets against a garage as the offenders posed as police officers (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).As many riminal Justice professionals have questioned throughout the years; though, why do such notorious criminals commit the heinous crimes they commit? Are these criminals suffering from some underlying reasoning? This paper presents an analysis of the criminal history and mind of Alphonse Capone and indicators to explain why criminals such as Capone commit crimes. Alphonse Capone, better known as Scarface, was born January 17, 1899 to Gabriel Capone, a barber and his mother Teresa (Carey, 2002).Capone had two brothers Ralph and Salvatore Capone (Carey, 2002).
At fourteen years of age Capone dropped out of school and Joined the gang of James Street Boys in which he graduated to the sister adult gang five years later known as the Five Points Gang (Carey, 2002). As a kid Capone held such Jobs as a candy store clerk, bowling alley attendant, and a cutter in a book bindery (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). Capone earned his nickname by receiving a nasty cut across his left cheek while trying to evict a customer (Carey, 2002).In 1918, Capone was wed to Mary Coughlin and fathered one child, Albert “Sonny” Francis (Carey, 2002). Although never convicted for the crimes, A1 Capone’s first indication as a criminal was disorderly conduct charge while employed by Yale, a member of the gang, and the murder of two men in New York (Chicago Historical Society, 1999).
In 1919, Capone moved to Chicago during the prohibition era where he distilled and distributed alcohol and conducted illegal brewing under Johnny Torrio and Lucky Luciano (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).After the death of Colosimo, Johnny Torrio took over the mob and Capone became chief lieutenant of operations (Carey, 2002). Capone managed the bootlegging operations of the Chicago underworld as well as Illinois and other neighboring states (Carey, 2002). Capone holds responsibility for starting the beer wars which cost many lives including Dion O’Bannion, leader of the North Side Gang (Carey, 2002). In 1925, after Torrio suffered injuries and retired from crime A1 Capone became the mob boss of the Colosimo mob (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).By 1930 Capone had expanded the mob to own more than $100,000,000 in income accumulated by underground bars, bookie Joints, gambling establishments, brothels, race tracks, distilleries and breweries (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). Until they decided that business with Capone was bad for the image, Capone even had politicians such as William “Big Bill” Hale Thompson under his employ (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). Despite many attempts, and because of gangland’s tradition, law enforcement found it difficult to charge Capone with any crimes.
In 1926, Capone was arrested for the murder of three people but spent only a single night in custody for lack of sufficient evidence (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). May 17, 1929 Capone was arrested on a concealed weapons charge and was sentenced to one year in prison but was released on good behavior after nine months (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008). By 1930 Capone was known as the Chicago’s top leader in the list of twenty-eight worst criminals and was deemed “Public Enemy Number One” (Chicago Historical Society, 1999). The problem was every time a murder was committed that was linked to Capone, Capone ensured he had an alibi.The other problem was that many of the citizens actually seen Capone as an old age Robin Hood. Even though Capone murdered dozens of people by his own hands and the hands of his men, and was known for his violent temper, he treated people fairly and generously and was known for his loyalty and honor (Chicago Historical Society, 1999).
Capone was the first to open soup kitchens when the stock market fell in the late twenties as well as Capone ordered merchants to give clothes and food to those who were in need (Chicago Historical Society, 1999).This formed a sense of loyalty to Capone by the citizens of Chicago. After many failed attempts to charge Capone with a crime the IRS charged Capone with tax evasion and on June 16, 1931 he pled guilty to tax evasion and prohibition charges (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008). Capone tried to change his plea to not guilty once the Judge informed him that the Judge was not bound by the plea greement he tried to enter with the attorneys (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).On November 24, 1931 Capone was convicted and sentenced to eleven years in federal prison, fifty thousand dollars in fines, charged almost $8,000 for court costs and then was held responsible for over $21 5,00 on unpaid taxes (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).
While serving his sentence at Alcatraz Capone’s health deteriorated from syphilis and immediately upon release Capone underwent brain treatment (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008). After the treatment, physicians and sychiatrists in 1946 said Capone had the mentality ofa 12 year old child (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008).On January 25, 1947 Capone died from stroke and pneumonia in his Palm Island estate with his wife and immediate family by his side (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008). For many centuries now criminal Justice professionals have tried to determine why criminals such as Alphonse Capone commit crimes. Various schools of crime causation including the classical and neoclassical school of crime causation, Biological, Psychobiological, Psychological, and Sociological schools have been used to determine the causes.Classical and Neoclassical crime causations dictated that crime is caused by an individuals own free will and prevention is only possible through fast adequate punishment (Schmalleger, 2007). Capone did of his own free will commit the crimes and since law enforcement was unable up to the end to provide fast and adequate punishment, Capone continued his crime spree up until the tax evasion charges.
Unlike the Classical schools of crime causation, the Biological School of crime causation dictates that criminal genes cause criminal behavior and that a criminal can be identified through physical characteristics and makeup (Schmalleger, 2007).Since both the mother and father of A1 Capone were not involved in crime but the brothers Joined in crime almost the same time as A1 Capone it is difficult for one to determine that the crime gene existed. Also, one cannot determine the Atavism theory of the Biological School of crime causation without extensive studies being conducted on A1 Capone himself, which would be impossible now. It is important to note; however, that A1 Capone did hold a Mesomorph body type under the somatotyping theory (Schmalleger, 2007).The Psychobiological Theory of crime causation defines that a person is likely to ommit crimes if they eat certain foods, suffer from certain physical traumas, or have a certain chromosome makeup (Schmalleger, 2007). Since A1 Capone had to not only endure brain treatment and suffered from syphilis it is reasonable to say that likeliness exists these factors did indeed contribute to the criminal behavior.
However, there is no solid proof without obtaining A1 Capone’s medical records since the brain treatment did not commence until after release from incarceration and no one was able to pinpoint how long Capone had syphilis.Extensive knowledge about Capone’s dietary habits as well as medical history would have to be examined to make a reasonable assumption of such theories. Now it is reasonable for one to ascertain that there exist at least some Psychological crime causations in A1 Capone’s criminal history since one determinant is a diseased mind (Schmalleger, 2007).
One can ascertain that since Capone had to have brain treatment and the psychiatrists described Capone to be deteriorating to the point of having the mentality of a 12 year old that indeed something mentally was wrong with Capone.Also, since Capone gave to needy families but also at the same time it is ossible that Capone had a dysfunctional personality (Schmalleger, 2007). Behavioral conditioning stipulates that the rate of criminal behaviors will increase through reward or decrease through punishment (Schmalleger, 2007). Since it was far into Capone’s criminal career before he seen any type of punishment than Capone lacked good positive behavioral conditioning.Finally, the Sociological school of crime causation defines that social disorganization is a major factor in criminal behaviors (Schmalleger, 2007). Specifically the Sociological Theories theorize that the impact of individuals with the surroundings, roups, and social environment can dictate criminal behavior (Schmalleger, 2007). Since under this school of crime causation crime can be the growth of subgroup relationships, A1 Capone’s relationship to the street gang members in his youth could be the determinant of his criminal career.
Through the broken windows thesis of this school of crime causation, the area in which Capone grew up as a child might have been suffering from physical deterioration and thus welcomed higher crime rates (Schmalleger, 2007). No one can really know one hundred percent why Alphonse Capone led the notorious riminal career life that he did, but one thing that is certain is that America will never forget the impact he left in his time as a criminal.Whether it was the environment Capone grew up in or the brain condition that he was found to have, Capone led a life filled with violence and deceit until which time the system was finally able to hold charges against him.
Some felt Capone was the Robin Hood of old times while others had come to recognize him as a cold hearted killer. Criminal Justice professionals alike may never really know why Capone chose the life of a criminal but America will never forget who Capone really was.