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Primary Sources: Some Anti-Dillinger Laws

In the late spring of 1934, Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a set of sweeping measures designed to foil outlaws like John Dillinger. For the first time, these laws granted powerful rights to agents of the federal government, including the rights to carry arms and make arrests. The anti-crime package also established stiff punishments for many of Dillinger's offenses, including bank robbery and crossing state lines to avoid the law.

Within two months, special agent Melvin Purvis and other D.O.I. agents used these powers to shoot down John Dillinger on a Chicago street. The era of the heroic G-man had begun.

Killing Federal Officers

May 18, 1934.
[S. 2080.]
[Public, No. 230.]

[CHAPTER 299.]
AN ACT
To provide punishment for killing or assaulting Federal officers.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That whoever shall kill, as defined in sections 273 and 274 of the Criminal Code, any United States marshal or deputy United States marshal, special agent of the Division of Investigation of the Department of Justice, post-office inspector, Secret Service operative, any officer or enlisted man of the Coast Guard, any employee of any United States penal or correctional institution, any officer of the customs or of internal revenue, any immigrant inspector or any immigrant patrol inspector, while engaged in the performance of his official duties, or on account of the performance of his official duties, shall be punished as provided under section 275 of the Criminal Code.

SEC. 2. Whoever shall forcibly resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with any person designated in section 2 hereof while engaged in the performance of his official duties, or shall assault him on account of the performance of his official duties, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and whoever, in commission of any of the acts described in this section, shall use a deadly or dangerous weapon shall be fined not more that $10,000, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Approved, May 18, 1934.

Crossing State Lines to Avoid Prosecution or Giving Testimony

May 18, 1934.
[S. 2253.]
[Public, No. 233.]

[CHAPTER 302.]
AN ACT
Making it unlawful for any person to flee from one State to another for the purpose of avoiding prosecution or the giving of testimony in certain cases.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it shall be unlawful for any person to move or travel in interstate or foreign commerce from any State, Territory, or possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, with intent either (1) to avoid prosecution of murder, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, mayhem, rape, assault with a dangerous weapon, or extortion accompanied by threats of violence, or attempt to commit any of the forgoing, under the laws of the place from which he flees, or (2) to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceedings in such place in which the commission of a felony is charged. Any person who violates the provision of this Act shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment. Violations of this Act may be prosecuted only in Federal judicial district in which the original crime was alleged to have been committed.

Approved, May 18, 1934

Prison Employees Prohibited from Assisting a Prisoner's Escape

May 18, 1934.
[S. 2275.]
[Public, No. 234.]

[CHAPTER 303]
AN ACT
To define certain crimes against the United States in connection with the administration of Federal penal and correctional institutions and to fix the punishment therefor.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person employed at any Federal penal or correctional institution as an officer or employee of the United States, or any other person who instigates, connives at, wilfully attempts to cause, assists in, or conspires with any other person or persons to cause any mutiny, riot, or escape at such penal or correctional institution; or any such officer or employee or any other person who, without knowledge or consent of the warden or superintendent of such institution, conveys or causes to be conveyed into such institution, or from place to place within such institution, or knowingly aids or assist therein, any tool, device, or substance designated to cure, abrade, or destroy the materials or any part thereof, of which any building or buildings of such institution are constructed, or any other substance or thing designed to injure or destroy any building or buildings or any part thereof, of such institution; or who conveys or causes to be conveyed into such institution, or from place to place within such institution, or aids or assists therein, or who conspires with any other person or persons to convey or cause to be conveyed into such institution or from place to place within such institution, any firearm, weapon, explosive, or any lethal or poisonous gas, or any other substance or thing designed to kill, injure, or disable any officer, agent, employee, or inmate thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not more than ten years.

SEC. 2. All Acts and part of Acts in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

Approved, May 18, 1934.

Robbing Banks Becomes Punishable by Death

May 18, 1934.
[S. 2275.]
[Public, No. 234.]

[CHAPTER 304.]
AN ACT
To provide punishment for certain offenses committed against banks organized or operating under laws of the United States or any member of the Federal Reserve System.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That as used in this Act the term "bank" includes any member bank of the Federal Reserve System, and any bank, banking association, trust company, savings bank, or any other banking institution organized or operating under the laws of the United States.

SEC. 2. (a) Whoever, by force and violence, or by putting in fear, feloniously, or feloniously attempts to take, from the person or presence of another any property or money or any other thing of value belonging to , or in the care, custody, control, management, or possessions of, any bank shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

(b) Whoever, in committing, or in attempting to commit, any offense defined in subsection (a) of this section, assaults any person, or puts in jeopardy the life of any person by the use of dangerous weapon or device, shall be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 or imprisoned not less than five years nor more than twenty-five years, or both.

SEC. 3. Whoever, in committing any offense defined in this Act, or avoiding of attempting to avoid apprehension for the commission of such offense, or in freeing himself or attempting to free himself from arrest or confinement for such offense, kills any person or forces any person to accompany him without the consent of such person, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 10 years, or by death if verdict of the jury shall so direct.

SEC. 4. Jurisdiction over any offense defined by this Act shall not be reserved exclusively to courts of the United States.

Approved, May 18, 1934.

Reward Money is Offered for Capturing Criminals

June 6, 1934
[H.R. 9370]
[Public No. 295.]
[CHAPTER 408.]
AN ACT
To authorize an appropriation of money to facilitate the apprehension of certain persons charged with crime.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, as a reward or rewards for the capture of anyone who is charged with violation of criminal laws of the United States or ant State District of Columbia the sum of $25,000 to be apportioned and expended in the discretion of, and upon such conditions as may be imposed by, the Attorney General of the United States. That there is also hereby authorized to be appropriated as a reward or rewards for information leading to the arrest of any such person the sum of $25,000 to be apportioned and expended in the discretion of, and upon such conditions as may be imposed by, the Attorney General of the United States: Provided, That not more than $25,000 shall be expended for information or capture of any one person.

If the said persons or any of them shall be killed in resisting lawful arrest, the Attorney General may pay any part of the reward or rewards in his discretion to the person or persons whom he shall be adjudge to be entitled thereto: Provided, That no part of the money authorized to be appropriated by this Act shall be paid to any official or employee of the Department of Justice of the United States.

Approved, June 6,1934.



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