The slow death of prohibition | BBC News (March 2012)
When prohibition came into force, in 1920, saloons across the country were boarded up and the streets foamed with beer as joyful campaigners smashed kegs and poured bottles down the drain.
But far from ending corruption and vice, as opponents of the “demon rum” had hoped, prohibition led to an unprecedented explosion in criminality and drunkenness.
Thousands of speakeasies selling illegal liquor, often far stronger than legal varieties, sprang up across the country - and gangsters such as Al Capone fought bloody turf wars over the control of newly created bootlegging empires.
National prohibition was finally repealed in 1933, but it never quite died out.
When alcohol regulation was handed back to individual states, many local communities voted to keep the restrictions in place, particularly in the southern Bible Belt.
Today there are still more than 200 “dry” counties in the United States, and many more where cities and towns within dry areas have voted to allow alcohol sales, making them “moist” or partially dry.
[…] Methamphetamine and prescription pills like Oxycontin, dubbed “hillbilly heroin”, have taken over from bootlegging and the distillation of moonshine as the main source of profit for local criminals.
Bootleggers once “ran wild” in the area, according to Paul Croley, but with the growing availability of legal alcohol in wet towns, any profit made from smuggling booze across county lines has largely evaporated.
Local law enforcement largely turns a blind eye to bootleggers now, and few cases make it to court.
“It is simply somebody driving up the interstate, bringing beer down here and selling it to people. That’s it. It’s not the Dukes of Hazzard,” says Croley.
But the churches argue that alcohol is a “gateway” drug, and is still offered for sale by bootleggers alongside more dangerous substances.
Oh my god, seriously America.
Go cry about it.