Robert M. Lombardo, PhD
Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice
Organized Crime: Causes and Consequences
This book studies the causes and consequences of organized crime drawing on research from around the world including the countries of Colombia, China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It also includes a discussion of transnational crime and several other key theoretical topics. One important issue examined in this text is the difference between the terms organized crime, international organized crime and transnational organized crime, an often-confusing subject. As the title indicates, one of the goals of this volume is to identify the causes of organized crime. Working independently, the contributing authors have identified similar characteristics as the causes of organized crime no matter the country, culture or time period. For those teaching organized crime at the university level, this book is a valuable resource. It provides both an in-depth and analytical look at the world’s most powerful and persistent criminal organizations.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this book contains both qualitative and quantitative research. The works are all original, there are no reprinted chapters in this volume. This text not only provides historical background on the world’s most powerful criminal organizations, but also challenges common assumptions about the organization of these infamous groups. This is no “guns and garlic” book but contains in-depth sociological analyses of current trends in organized crime, one that should be of interest to government officials and those responsible for setting public policy. While this book will be of interest to the serious student, non-academics and casual readers alike will also be interested in the work presented here. It provides a fascinating look at a serious social problem, one that is forever evolving and will continue to challenge the international community.
Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia
University of Illinois Press: 2013
This book provides a comprehensive sociological explanation for the emergence and continuation of organized crime in Chicago. Tracing the roots of political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in Chicago and other large American cities, Robert M. Lombardo challenges the dominant belief that organized crime in America descended directly from the Sicilian Mafia. According to this widespread "alien conspiracy" theory, organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the Black Hand in America's immigrant colonies, and culminating in the development of the Cosa Nostra in America's urban centers.
Looking beyond this Mafia paradigm, this volume argues that the development of organized crime in Chicago and other large American cities was rooted in the social structure of American society. Specifically, Lombardo ties organized crime to the emergence of machine politics in America's urban centers. From nineteenth-century vice syndicates to the modern-day Outfit, Chicago's criminal underworld could not have existed without the blessing of those who controlled municipal, county, and state government. These practices were not imported from Sicily, Lombardo contends, but were bred in the socially disorganized slums of America where elected officials routinely franchised vice and crime in exchange for money and votes. This book also traces the history of the African American community's participation in traditional organized crime in Chicago and offers new perspectives on the organizational structure of the Chicago Outfit, the traditional organized crime group in Chicago.
The Black Hand: Terror by Letter in Chicago
University of Illinois Press: 2009
This book examines the history of Black Hand crime in Chicago primarily from 1905 to 1920 and challenges the belief that the Black Hand was an extension of the Sicilian Mafia. A crude method of extorting money from primarily wealthy Italians, the Black Hand involved sending victims a letter stating that they would come to harm if the blackmailers' demands were not met; the threatening letter often included a drawing of a black hand or other frightening symbols.
While many criminologists and scholars believe that Black Hand crime originated in Italy, that only Southern Italians and Sicilians committed Black Hand crime, and that only Southern Italians and Sicilians were Black Hand victims, Robert M. Lombardo argues that Black Hand crime actually evolved as the result of social conditions within American society such as the isolation of the Italian community, political corruption, and an ineffective criminal justice system. He shows that this association of the Black Hand and the Sicilian Mafia is a media construction, resulting from a narrative created by the news media despite the fact that many non-Italians also committed Black Hand crimes. Looking at the Black Hand from a sociological perspective, the book discusses the news-making criminology that tied Black Hand crime to the Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra and the evolution of traditional organized crime in Chicago and elsewhere.