Amazing "90%" Evidence

Could alco­hol actually be charged with 90 percent of the crimes committed in this country?

By W. A. SCHARFFENBERG, Secretary of the American Temperance Society

Years ago the messenger of the Lord indicated that "nine-tenths of the wickedness among the children of today is caused by in­temperance in eating and drinking" ; and that "nine tenths of those who are taken to prison are those who have learned to drink."1

When we of the American Temperance So­ciety first read these statements we wondered whether they were true to fact today. Was it really true that nine out of every ten in prison today are there because of alcohol? Could alco­hol actually be charged with 90 percent of the crimes committed in this country? Further­more, if we were to charge the liquor interests with go per cent of the crimes of this coun­try would the liquor industry accept the chal­lenge and demand that we bring forth the evi­dence to substantiate our claims? We decided, therefore, to do some original research work on this subject, and discover, if possible, the amount, extent, or percentage of crime that could be charged to alcohol.

The results were amazing. We started what we called our "Ninety Per Cent File," and placed in it every authoritative statement we could find on the subject. We are averaging ap­proximately one new statement each week, and we are confident that the results of the exten­sive survey which we plan to make at a little later date, with the assistance of a large num­ber of prison officials, will be far more enlight­ening than this preliminary study of the sub­ject. We are of the opinion that the statements appearing in the Spirit of prophecy, giving the percentage of those who have been put in prison because of drink, can be amply verified.

The following statements taken from our "Ninety Per Cent File" will, we trust, impress our readers with the terrific price that the American people are paying for the privilege of indulging in an appetite that is not only ruin­ing men's physical, mental, and moral powers but is also filling our prisons, our reform schools, our poorhouses, and our insane asy­lums.

Let us, first of all, quote from a statement Roland Burr made to the Canadian Parliament at about the time Sister White made the fore­going statements. Roland Burr was justice of the peace in Toronto, as well as the commis­sioner of jails for nearly twenty years. He ex­amined nearly two thousand prisoners in the jails throughout Canada, and in a statement to the Canadian Parliament made this report:

"Nine out of ten of the male prisoners, and nineteen out of twenty of the female, have been brought there by intoxicating liquors. . . .

"In four years there were 25,000 prisoners in the jails of Canada, 22,000 of whom were brought there by intoxicating liquors." 3

Mr. Burr must have been an interesting char­acter. He kept a record of one hundred liquor dealers on a single street in Toronto, over a period of fifty-four years, and reported to the Canadian Parliament:

"In these families there have been 214 drunkards, 45 widows, and 235 orphans left, 445 sudden deaths, 13 suicides, 203 premature deaths by drunkenness, 4 murders, 3 executions, 1,915 years of human life esti­mated to have been lost by drunkenness and a loss of property once owned in real estate amounting to $293,­500." 4

Now let us turn our attention to conditions in the United States. We shall begin with a statement made by Judge Joseph T. Zot­toli, of Boston, and close with a statement made by Judge William R. McKay, of Los Angeles.

Massachusetts.—Judge Joseph T. Zottoli, who served as chairman of the commission that had been appointed to study crime in Massa­chusetts, reported, "Over ninety percent of the adult population in prisons in Massachusetts to which people are sent for misdemeanors are there for offenses caused by drunkenness."'

Washington, D.C.—George Kennedy in re­porting on conditions at the workhouse in Washington, D.C., said, "Ninety per cent of the workhouse population has been drunkards and their maintenance comes to almost $500,000 a year."'

West Virginia.—The Grand Jury of the Common Pleas Court of Cabe11 County, West Virginia, handed Judge H. Clay Warth the following resolution after surveying the crime record : "It was found that about 90% of felo­nies, exclusive of forgery, were committed di­rectly or indirectly as the result of consump­tion of alcoholic beverages."

North Carolina.—Wilson Warlick, a superior court judge, said, "I have seen so many drunk men and so much misery caused by liquor that I would like to have a bill passed to do away entirely—lock, stock, and barrel—with the stuff."'

Judge Warlick referred to a statement he made in a Greensboro superior court to the ef­fect that 90 percent of the cases coming before him were caused by liquor, either directly or indirectly. He said a Greensboro newspaper had taken exception, saying the percentage was too high. The judge said that the next week he and the solicitor kept a strict account of all cases heard during the time, and found that not 90 percent but Too per cent of the trouble came directly or indirectly from liquor.

Alabama.—An Alabama citizen changed his opinion about the liquor business when he be­came sheriff. He said :

"I had always believed that every man had a right to drink if he wanted to, and that it was nobody's business. But my work as sheriff has convinced me that it is somebody's business, and that it is every citizen's solemn duty to prevent his neighbor getting any­thing that will ruin him. . .

"Ninety percent of all crime in Jefferson County and Birmingham is caused by liquor directly or indi­rectly."'

Missouri.—Judge George J. Grellner, of Saint Louis, said that "92% of the 10,000 peace disturbance cases on his docket last year were attributable to 'too much alcohol.' . . . The cur­rent wave of crime has been induced by alco­hol." "

Illinois.—Myles J. Walker in a recent letter to the Chicago Daily News wrote as follows :

"The writer is not a prohibitionist, but recently I had occasion to be present at a session of the East Chicago Avenue Police Court and was astounded to learn that out of 55 cases on the court call that day, 50 or approximately 90 percent of the defendants were charged with drunkenness. I was informed that this was the usual percentage of those charged with intoxi­cation.

"In other words, 90 percent of the time and atten­tion of the police department and the court's time and attention and likewise taxpayer's money is utilized in combating the evils of alcohol."

Minnesota.—Philip L. Griffin, chief proba­tion officer of the municipal court of Minneapo­lis recently made the following statement: "We adjudicated approximately 20,000 cases last year. . . . Practically 90 percent of the cases that come through the court, whether it be assault and battery, petit larceny, or traffic cases, are as a result of drinking. Most non-support cases are results of the same thing."

Judge Paul Jaroscak in a report presented before the Mayor's Committee on Alcoholism, stated, "Out of 1,099 cases heard this last month, 906 involved alcohol."

Wyoming.—A dispatch from Wyoming quotes the municipal judge as saying, "Nine tenths of the cases coming before him in six years originated in saloons and gambling halls." '6

Washington.—In an article written for the police journal of the Lower Columbia River Peace Officers' Association, Sheriff Robert E. Brady, of Washington, makes the remarkable statement :

"Ninety-five percent of the persons who come to the county jail at Vancouver, Washington, are arrested as the direct or indirect result of liquor ; these include the drunken driver, third degree assault cases and sex cases." "

California.—Judge William R. McKay, for two years presiding judge of the criminal de­partment of the Superior Courts of Los Angeles County, announces

"Ninety percent of the entire criminal calendar in the courts of Los Angeles County is dealing with liq­uor and the liquor traffic.

"A high official in the Los Angeles County Coro­ner's office reports that virtually every case investi­gated by the coroner has liquor at the source. Sixty of such cases, all involving liquor, were in the county coroner's office in one day." "

Space will not permit us to present a similar array of statements from judges, law-enforce­ment officers, and others in official circles, showing that from 75 to 90 percent of the broken homes, divorces, insanity, juvenile de­linquency cases, as well as traffic accidents, ap­pearing before our courts can be charged to alcohol.

"How important it is that God's messengers shall call the attention of statesmen, of editors, of thinking men everywhere, to the deep significance of the drunk­enness and the violence now filling the land with deso­lation and death! As faithful colaborers with God, we must bear a clear, decided testimony on the temperance question. . .

"Now is our golden opportunity to co-operate with heavenly intelligences in enlightening the understand­ing of those who are studying the meaning of the rapid increase of crime and disaster. As we do our part faithfully, the Lord will bless our efforts to the saving of many precious souls." 16


1 Review and Herald, Oct. 21, 1884.

2Ibid., May 8, 1894.

Footprints of Satan, p. 187.

4 Ibid.

5 You and Alcohol, p, 40.

6 Washington Evening Star, Feb. 35, 1947.

National Voice, July II, 1946.

8 Ibid., April 8, 1948.

9 Union Signal, Nov. 24, 1945.

10The Foundation Says, March-April, 1947.

11 Temperance League of America Research Service,

12 Nuggets, no. 30, L-48-5.

13 Pastor's Monthly Bulletin of Temperance Facts, May, 1948.

14 Denver Post, March 19, 1948.

15 The Clipsheet, March 8, 1948.

16 National Voice, Sept. 9, 1948.

17 Review and Herald, Oct. 25, 1906.

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By W. A. SCHARFFENBERG, Secretary of the American Temperance Society

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