Literature Review on Extortion essay

Extortion, which is to say the acquisition of money, influence or other gains through the use of force or threat of harm (Kelly, 2003) has been cited as a catalyst in obstruction of justice (Kendall & Cuff, 2008) for decades. The use of extortion has been recognized as a favorite of organized crime in America as well, contributing greatly to the tremendous growth in organized crime in the United States, especially since the 1950s (Berdal & Serrano, 2002). With all of this in mind, relevant literature on the topic of extortion was reviewed in this research in order to better understand the topic and its widespread effects.

Literature Review In the abstract, extortion was defined; moving a step forward from that definition, there is a general confusion regarding the difference between extortion and blackmail, which sources clearly point out- extortion being the use of force or threats to gain something from another party, whereas blackmail can involve the offering of something of value to gain a given outcome, or the demand of something of value in order to prevent some sort of damaging information from being released (Block, 1999).

Because of the effective nature of extortion, it is a favorite of organized crime, and has been for decades (Kelly, et al 1994). Another interesting angle on the topic of extortion which the literature revealed is the fact that extortion is a leading contributor to obstruction of justice violations (Kendall & Cuff, 2008) as it is a way to quickly prevent legal cases from moving forward, making evidence change or disappear, etc. With the help of extortion, organized crime has grown by leaps and bounds in America over the years, and shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon (Berdal & Serrano, 2002).

In response to this burst of crime, law enforcement officials on all levels have utilized the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to bring organized crime figures to justice. Still, a great deal of work on the part of law enforcement remains to be done before America is free of the blight of extortion and related organized crime. Similarities, Strengths/Weaknesses Among the Sources Reviewed Among the sources reviewed, there are similarities, strengths and weaknesses that are worthy of note.

All of these sources also cite the importance of a continued fight against extortion rackets both large and small, and also emphasize that crime of this nature is not shrinking; rather, it is increasing in alarming numbers. It is in the thorough nature of these sources that their strength lies; however, a weakness in all of the sources is that they offer few valid solutions for the epidemic of extortion. How This Research Improves the Study of Extortion

In summary, this research improves the study of extortion because it ties together the social, economic, legal and historical aspects of extortion in order to show how chronic and damaging it is to every man, woman and child in America. Legal, academic, and sociological experts were cited in this review to achieve this goal. Conclusion Finally, it is possible to draw some general conclusions about extortion. First, extortion is not some outdated, unused thing which only exists in gangster movies and fiction; it is a very real, and very much alive activity favored by organized crime up to this day.

However, authorities have fought back with strong laws and even stronger enforcement to keep Americans safe. Lastly, however, the fact remains that organized crime is still on the rise in the US, and only continued law enforcement vigor will make a difference in fighting it in the future. Annotated Bibliography Berdal, M. & Serrano, M. (Eds. ). (2002). Transnational Organized Crime and International Security: Business as Usual?. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

In this book, Berdal and Serrano trace the roots of what they call “Transactional Organized Crime”- bribery, extortion and the like, in order to try to answer the question of whether or not modern organized crime is something new and innovative or if it is simply a rehash of age old rackets, repackaged as new crime. The reason that the authors undertook this new look at the ongoing presence of organized crime in society is because the statistics indicate that organized crime is indeed a “growth industry” worldwide. Block, W. (1999). The Crime of Blackmail: A Libertarian Critique. Criminal Justice Ethics, 18(2), 3.

From an admittedly liberal point of view, Block, in this journal article, makes the important differentiation between blackmail and extortion. With that definition in place, Block dissects the two and distinguishes with them, by specific example, how in his estimation extortion can be diluted to blackmail, which he asserts in some situations is not illegal. In concluding the article, Block makes a call for careful legal evaluation of every case which is automatically painted with the broad brush of blackmail or extortion, so that there can be a distinction made between the merely distasteful and immoral from the illegal.

Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States (R. J. Kelly, K. Chin, & R. Schatzberg, Ed. ) (1994). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Kelly, Chin and Schatzberg compiled in this volume not only a history of American organized crime, but also explored it as a social force, subculture, and influential force in the economic, social and cultural development of the nation. In describing the major figures and movements in organized crime, the editors of this handbook have painted a picture of something which is often invisible to the masses, yet affects everyone.

This resource was chosen because the topic of extortion is discussed within it. Kelly, D. B. (2003). Defining Extortion: RICO, Hobbs, and Statutory Interpretation in Scheidler V. National Organization for Women, Inc. , 123 S. Ct. 1057. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 26(3), 953+. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is the proverbial weapon of choice for law enforcement to battle extortion in the modern day.

In this article, Kelly describes the inner workings of the RICO statutes and cites relevant case law in which RICO has been used as the means to extinguish extortion rackets in the United States of America. Kendall, A. , & Cuff, K. (2008). Obstruction of Justice. American Criminal Law Review, 45(2), 765+. Extortion is a well-known culprit in the efforts on the part of criminals to obstruct justice; with this in mind, Kendall and Cuff have provided details of the ways that extortion manifests itself within obstruction of justice, such as the intimidation of witnesses, pressure to alter/fabricate evidence, etc.