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Public Order Crimes (From Criminology, Seventh Edition, P 423-469, 2000, Larry J. Siegel, -- See NCJ-185178)

NCJ Number
Larry J. Siegel Ph.D.
Date Published
47 pages
Public order crimes are acts considered illegal because they conflict with social policy, accepted moral rules, and public opinion.
There is usually great debate over public order crimes. Some charge that they are not really crimes at all and that it is foolish to legislate morality. Others view such morally tinged acts as prostitution, gambling, and drug abuse as harmful and therefore subject to public control. Many public order crimes are sex-related; although homosexuality is not a crime, homosexual acts are subject to legal control and some States still follow the archaic custom of legislating long prison terms for consensual homosexual sex. Prostitution is another sex-related public order crime. Although prostitution has been practiced for thousands of years and is legal in some areas, most States outlaw commercial sex. Studies indicate that prostitutes come from poor, troubled families and have abusive parents. However, there is little evidence that prostitutes are emotionally disturbed addicted to drugs, or sexually abnormal. Although prostitution is illegal, some cities have set up adult entertainment areas where commercial sex is tolerated by law enforcement. Pornography involves the sale of sexually explicit materials intended to sexually excite paying customers. The depiction of sex and nudity is not illegal but it does violate the law when it is judged obscene. A growing problem is the exploitation of children in obscene materials. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that local communities can pass statutes outlawing any sexually explicit materials. Although there is no hard evidence that pornography is related to crime or aggression, data suggest that sexual materials with a violent them are related to sexual violence by those who view them. Substance abuse is another type of public order crime. Most States and the Federal Government outlaw a wide variety of drugs they consider harmful. One of the main reasons for the continued ban on drugs is their relationship to crime. Numerous studies have found that drug addicts commit significant amounts of property crime. Alcohol is also a commonly abused substance but alcohol is legal to possess. Drunk driving and deaths caused by drunk drivers are growing national problems. 271 notes, 4 tables, 4 figures, and 8 photographs