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NCJ Number: 153410 Find in a Library
Title: Disorder and the Court
Journal: Public Interest  Issue:116  Dated:(Summer 1994)  Pages:57-74
Author(s): G L Kelling; C M Coles
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 18
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In the current debate over what to do about crime in the United States, national leaders focus on such crime issues as capital punishment, gun control, prison sentence length, and number of police on the streets; this debate, however, is much different at the local level.
Abstract: The local debate focuses on such issues as panhandling, lying down in public spaces, public drinking and drug use, prostitution, loitering, graffiti, and other forms of disorderly behavior. The level of disorder in localities has serious social consequences, including increased fear of crime. The local debate over crime control is often framed by advocates of a political agenda concerned with social injustice, the inequitable distribution of wealth, and the general victimization of helpless street people. The relationship between disorder and fear, however, is very real at the local level. The authors recognize that many contemporary challenges to laws designed to restrict panhandling and other disorderly behavior may allow the police to harass, intimidate, and arrest persons whose only crime is being poor. The role of the courts in limiting police discretion is considered, as well as the need for police departments to develop formal police discretion guidelines. The experience of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority in enforcing its rules against panhandling and other disorderly activities is reported.
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Criminology; Disorderly conduct; Fear of crime; Homeless persons; New York; Police discretion; Public nuisance; Public order offenses; Victims of Crime
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