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Grace Carlson

Two Kinds of Justice

(23 February 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 8, 23 February 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a sensational article in the March issue of The American Magazine, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover writes on The Rising Crime Wave.

“Our war is not over,” says G-Man Hoover. “It merely has shifted from a fight against criminal armies on the foreign fronts of the world to a fight against an army of criminals on the front of law enforcement here at home ... There is an army of at least 6,000,000 criminals in the United States today – one criminal for every 23 inhabitants of the nation. Their fingerprints and the records of their arrests are in the files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Washington.”

I am one of the FBI’s “6,000,000 criminals,” myself. So are the 17 other prisoners in the Minneapolis Labor Case. Our fingerprints, our photographs and our case histories are in its Washington files. Our “crime” consisted of telling the workers the truth about the imperialist war and in militantly defending their interests. While I was serving my sentence in the Federal prison for women at Alderson, West Virginia, I met hundreds of other members of Hoover’s “army of criminals.”

There was Maggie Owens, for example. (This is not her real name but it is her true story.) A spry independent little woman of sixty-nine, Maggie Owens tried to make a living in a poor community in the hills of Kentucky. But the Federal Government did not approve of her business activities. J. Edgar Hoover’s G-Men swooped down on her and she was sent to the penitentiary on a charge of violating the federal liquor laws.

And there was sixteen-year-old Betty Sue Tucker. (This isn’t her real name either.) Pretty, blue-eyed, black-haired Betty Sue worked in a cotton mill in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for miserable wages. Until the war came and an army camp was established at Fayetteville, Betty Sue had very few dates with boys and very little fun. Then, she began to go out with one of the soldiers from the camp. But her path of love did not “run smooth.” The soldier was transferred to another camp and Betty Sue was indicted by the FBI as a violator of the May Act – a law set up to protect the “morals” of the soldiers. She was sent to the federal prison to serve a year’s sentence. Her baby was born there six months after she was admitted.

Do you think that these people are “criminals,” Mr. Hoover? I don’t! No decent person could think so. Any human being with a spark of compassion feels that the Maggie Owens’ and Sue Tuckers’ in our jails and prisons are “more sinned against than sinning.” These are not criminals!

But I can tell you where you can find a real criminal, Mr. Hoover. He is former Federal Judge Albert Johnson of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Even the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, which is usually very lenient in its judgment of criminals in high places, says that Johnson was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Judge Johnson’s many crimes are listed in the Judiciary Committee’s report, issued on February 6. This report says:

“Almost every litigant who had the misfortune to appear before this wicked and malicious judge became the immediate object of a crooked conspiracy whose sole interest was the amount of money that could be extorted from him for justice or the evasion of justice.”

Judge Johnson was further accused of having compelled his official secretary and deputized court clerks “to rent apartments in the buildings he owned at higher rentals than other tenants were paying him” and of compelling them “to do the menial work of servants in his home, dusting, cleaning and even washing his floors.”

What do you suppose happened to this crooked judge? Has he been sentenced to a long prison term? Not at all! The House Judiciary Committee said that Johnson’s crimes would ordinarily call for impeachment. But it did not request impeachment because the judge already had resigned and waived retirement rights!

So, there is ex-Judge Johnson living happily and comfortably on the fat fees and graft which he extorted from many hundreds of victims during his more than 20 years as a Federal Judge!

Now, here is your chance, Mr. Hoover, to demonstrate to the citizens that “crime doesn’t pay.” Go after this “wicked and malicious” judge! See that he is punished for his violations of a couple of dozen federal laws! Put this criminal behind bars!

Otherwise, a lot of us are going to think that the FBI is enforcing a different kind of “justice” against the poor, than against the rich. We are going to be forced to conclude that crime in high places does pay!

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Last updated: 18 September 2018