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Public-Order Crime (From Major Forms of Crime, P 95-117, 1984, Robert F Meier, ed. - See NCJ-97901)

NCJ Number
V L Swigert
Date Published
23 pages
The nature of 'mala prohibita offenses,' which include a wide range of behaviors known as crimes against the public or moral order, is explored.
Mala prohibita offenses include the abuse of drugs and alcohol; an assortment of sex offenses, among which are prostitution, homosexuality, premarital and extramarital sex, masturbation, and the public display of sexuality; the production and distribution of pornography; gambling; and abortion. Since public offenses involve the willing participation of citizens in activities legally denied them, questions are raised about the nature of law in society and about society's reaction to those who violate these laws. It is suggested that in cases brought before courts, a differential selection of public order criminals is evident. The influences of class and race, as well as the conditions associated with the deviant behaviors, may produce bias in handling such offenders. The extent of deviant behavior and the nature of both deviance and deviants suggest that the focus should be shifted from the causes of public order offenses to the laws that proscribe these activities. Seventy-five references are listed.


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