The Davenport Public Library presents “Hoover & Criminal Justice Reform" -- May 18.

Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m.

Presented by the Davenport Public Library

Presented on May 18 as part of the Davenport Public Library's 3rd Thursday at Hoover's Presidential Library & Museum series, the live virtual program Hoover & Criminal Justice Reform will find University of Texas at Austin professor Dr. James Calder speaking on historic accomplishments such as the former president's establishment of a hospital for defective delinquents, as well as his creation of the Unites States Parole Board.

As stated at, "Most sociologists and criminal justice experts have long known about Hoover’s impact on modernizing the federal prison and court system. Historian James D. Calder who wrote the most comprehensive study of Hoover’s initiatives paints this portrait of what Hoover faced: 'But the fact remains that on March 4, 1929, federal policing attracted low popular respect, federal court dockets were jammed with civil and criminal cases, federal prisons were filled beyond capacities, and the impact of new forms of crime called for new administrative organizations and new legislation. Moreover, federal agencies hardly imagined they were related to each other in a common mission.' The typical Hooverian approach to solving problems was to find the leading experts to investigate and gather information. George W. Wickersham led a commission to provide a 'scientific' study of crime and law enforcement. Too often, the Wickersham Commission is dismissed since it did not make a recommendation about the question of Prohibition. Historian’s obsession with Prohibition has obscured the other major recommendations in the report that set the foundation for later presidential policies dealing with federal prison and court reforms."

The site continues: "Calder once again describes the challenges Hoover faced: 'First, disarray in most federal justice bureaus at the end of the 1920s was clear evidence of low administrative standing and policy neglect. Second, few measures were proposed to address problems of federal justice, and there was no comprehensive plan for linking constitution prescriptions concerning individual rights with police practices, prosecutorial behavior, and keepers of punishment facilities. Third, no intellectual resources had been invested in the evaluation of federal justice organizations. Finally, between 1900 and 1928, presidents failed to acknowledge the emergence of new forms of crime, especially organized, and applications of new technologies and strategies to counter criminal invention and entrepreneurship.' Previous blog posts detailed Hoover’s personal oversight of federal agencies to collaborate in putting Al Capone in jail using his failure to pay income tax as the justification. 'Between May 13 and 27, 1930,' according to Calder, 'Hoover signed five measures to establish a hospital for defective delinquents, to create the Unites States Parole Board, to authorize the Public Health Service to treat federal prisoner, to create the Federal Bureau of Prisons and to establish federal jails, and to construct two new federal prisons.'"

Program presenter James Calder has been a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin since 1979, teaching and publishing first as a member of the Department of Criminal Justice until 2006, then to present in the Department of Political Science and Geography. In recent years, his teaching in Political Science has included topics in global affairs; homeland security; the intelligence community and world affairs; federal justice policymaking; and politics in film. His articles and books have focused mainly on security matters, political leaders, and crime control policies, including studies of American presidents and their roles in directing federal actions against organized crime.

Hoover & Criminal Justice Reform will be presented virtually on May 18, participation in the 6 p.m. Zoom event is free, and more information is available by calling (563)326-visiting

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