why was it difficult to enforce the laws governing prohibition

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Prohibition, the banning of the manufacture, distribution, sale, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, was doomed from the beginning for a variety of reasons.


Historically, alcoholic beverages had been present and important since colonial days. Directions for construction of stills and distilling of alcohol were easily available; stills could be located in any hidden part of a home or rural property. As production from some stills grew beyond the amount needed for home consumption, organized gangs began efforts to control and profit from the distribution and sales of the alcohol. Gangs used bribery and force to intimidate those charged with enforcing laws against alcoholic beverages, leading to violent deaths and great wealth for gang leaders.


Gangs also became involved in importing alcoholic beverages from overseas. As the Roaring Twenties went on, being able to trick the authorities and drink became a sign of personal liberation and freedom. The thrill of doing something that was technically illegal was seen as exciting and adventurous. Law enforcement authorities were overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to prohibit an activity that most of the public came to believe was only slightly naughty.

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