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Author Topic: Homelessness Add-On  (Read 2807 times)
sarabethbrooks
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Posts: 6


« on: June 07, 2014, 05:46:04 PM »

Hi all,

I have prepared a paper advocating for the addition of homelessness to the topic areas. I've attached the paper below. I have also uploaded all of the academic journals to a zip folder which can be downloaded here: http://ge.tt/5ulEhTj1/v/0. I don't want lack of access to materials to prevent anyone from participating in this discussion.

I know there were other groups who talked about doing this, so if that work was done I'm sure it can be merged together. But I didn't want the opportunity to pass us by, this area is so crucial to the decriminalize topic.

Sara Beth

* Homelessness Wording Paper.pdf (585.16 KB - downloaded 525 times.)
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 05:53:00 PM by sarabethbrooks » Logged
kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2014, 06:17:02 PM »

Thanks, Sara Beth!  This is great--just what we need.  A look at the verbs, an advocacy position, and a discussion of the key terms to use.

A few questions for you:

1. It looks like legalize would work, but might not be as good as decriminalize for this area.  What solvency would we lose if we went with "legalize homelessness" instead of "decriminalize homelessness."

2. For the term--would it just be as simple as "legalize homelessness" to access the vagrancy and loitering acts without getting into the idea that "homelessness" itself is not often the crime--it's activities associated with it?  It seems like we need some other modifier in addition to homelessness.  In other words, yes, the narrow use of homelessness seems to matter (as the card below indicates), but it is just a small part of the larger set of crimes that are used to target the homeless.  Maybe we say something like "laws against homeless-related activities"?  Maybe "activities targeted against homelessness."  Not sure--definitely something to figure out because this is a crucial area.

3. For an unrelated question--what do you think the viability of using "public order crimes" as a way to capture a set of crimes including the major ones?  I assume that would include homelessness.  This card caught my eye from your paper:

O’Connor 10 (Dr. Tom O’Connor, professor of Criminal Justice at Austin Peay State University. “CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER & MORALITY” http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3010/3010lect07.htm) sbb
Public order crimes are known by a variety of names -- consensual crime, victimless vice, crimes without victims, or victimless crime. In fact, Siegel (2004) defines both public order crime AND victimless crime as "crime which involves acts that interfere with the operations of society and the ability of people to function efficiently." This definition aside, the term public order, meaning public (moral) order has become favored in recent years, and the term victimless is mostly out of favor because the discovery of secondary victims (family, friends, and acquaintances) has led to recognition of victimlessness as a myth. The field of criminology has gone through at least three stages of controversy: (1) a period around 1930-1960 when the debate was over the functions of deviance (Davis 1937; Coser 1962); (2) a period around 1960-1980 when the debate was over harm to self versus harm to society (Becker 1963; MacNamara & Karmen 1983); and (3) the period from about 1990 on, which has involved trying to sort out the many links between sex, drugs, alcohol, and crime (Krohn et. al. 1997). ¶ The major crimes that are usually analyzed in the public order category include (in no particular order): prostitution, deviant sex (paraphilias), precocious sex (underage sex), homosexuality, pornography, alcoholism, liquor law violations (underage drinking), driving while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, drug offenses (opiates, heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, marijuana), and cigarette smoking. There are a number of other crimes and deviant acts, such as vagrancy, panhandling, homelessness, helmet and seat belt violations, gambling, abortion, suicide, and witchcraft that are not fully discussed here for sake of brevity.

Thanks again--if you do supplemental work on it, will you post that as well?  Good stuff,

Kevin

Hi all,

I have prepared a paper advocating for the addition of homelessness to the topic areas. I've attached the paper below. I have also uploaded all of the academic journals to a zip folder which can be downloaded here: http://ge.tt/5ulEhTj1/v/0. I don't want lack of access to materials to prevent anyone from participating in this discussion.

I know there were other groups who talked about doing this, so if that work was done I'm sure it can be merged together. But I didn't want the opportunity to pass us by, this area is so crucial to the decriminalize topic.

Sara Beth
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sarabethbrooks
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Posts: 6


« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2014, 12:43:35 PM »

Hey Kevin,

I'm glad that the research is going to be useful.

To answer your questions:

1. Decriminalize is significantly better in my opinion. Under this topic area a decriminalize aff could remove some/all of the vagrancy/loitering statutes. The research I found about the criminalization of homelessness pretty much all revolves around the crimes of actions in public that most people do in their homes (sleeping, eating, sitting down, washing up). If "legalize" were chosen instead, we wouldn't have any access to any of that solvency; the debate would pivot to the legality of public encampments (also known as tent cities) which provide a place for sleeping, eating, sitting down, washing up. Under "legalize" we would be talking about how to make those encampments and other similar forms (car camping, for example) legal instead of removing the restrictions on these activities in public places. There is less literature about tent cities in general because they are a relatively new phenomenon in the last decade or so that arose out of groups of homeless people organizing together in small communities. The lit is still there but it seems like a less developed debate.

2. This is the part of that I struggled the most with, and I honestly don't know what the right nuanced phrase is. Some of the critical lit I read talked about the "crimes of homelessness." I suppose the wording could also read vagrancy and loitering laws, though someone would have to go back and look at the terms "vagrancy" and "loitering" and that would probably lead us down a different rabbit hole since those words aren't exclusively associated with homelessness. "Decriminalize homelessness" is a phrase that is true to the lit base, even if it doesn't seem so on face value. A legalize option is more tricky in wording, because there is no literature that I could find that says "legalize homelessness." Generally homelessness is considered to be a negative thing -- not always but generally -- and so it's hard to find people who say that we should legalize it. I think if the choice is legalize, it might be better to collapse to specific laws, such as public camping or public encampments (two different laws there). Or, sadly, just not include it at all. It's really much better for decriminalization, tbh.

3. So I thought about this too, especially after coming across O'Connor's article. It would be easy to write the resolution to decriminalize or legalize "public order crimes" and avoid a lengthy list of topic areas. However I had trouble finding stable ground for what "public order offenses" or "public order crimes" means. This doesn't mean the ground isn't there, but there was definitely a lot less certainty over what those terms mean. I was grateful to find the O'Connor card because it painted the clearest picture for me. If you google "public order offenses" in quotations you will find that there are several terms of art that seem to describe similar sets of crimes but no one unifying term. Maybe this is better for T debate? I don't think it's a bad idea, but I'm not sure you're going to find as much solvency as you do when you list out individual crimes that should be decriminalized (or individual actions that should be legalized).

I'm happy to do some more work on this throughout the week. Wish I could be in KC with y'all, someone should eat too much bbq for me.

SB
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kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 345


« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2014, 01:56:08 PM »

thanks again, sara beth.  if you come across some good definitions of "crimes of homelessness" or of "homelessness-related crimes," that would be great.  I think one of those terms could do the trick--we should not be afraid to use the term "crimes" in the resolution about embracing the "de-crime."  I also think something like "R: Agents of choice should fully legalize crimes of homelessness" would get at the tent city component and the vagrancy/municipal order stuff.  There is a balance between looking at larger crimes that are used to target the homeless and the inability to actually address the way the country is going after homelessness on a local level.  I also think we may try to use legalize across the board (at least in some wordings) and it would be good to have a phrase that works either way.

Hey Kevin,

I'm glad that the research is going to be useful.

To answer your questions:

1. Decriminalize is significantly better in my opinion. Under this topic area a decriminalize aff could remove some/all of the vagrancy/loitering statutes. The research I found about the criminalization of homelessness pretty much all revolves around the crimes of actions in public that most people do in their homes (sleeping, eating, sitting down, washing up). If "legalize" were chosen instead, we wouldn't have any access to any of that solvency; the debate would pivot to the legality of public encampments (also known as tent cities) which provide a place for sleeping, eating, sitting down, washing up. Under "legalize" we would be talking about how to make those encampments and other similar forms (car camping, for example) legal instead of removing the restrictions on these activities in public places. There is less literature about tent cities in general because they are a relatively new phenomenon in the last decade or so that arose out of groups of homeless people organizing together in small communities. The lit is still there but it seems like a less developed debate.

2. This is the part of that I struggled the most with, and I honestly don't know what the right nuanced phrase is. Some of the critical lit I read talked about the "crimes of homelessness." I suppose the wording could also read vagrancy and loitering laws, though someone would have to go back and look at the terms "vagrancy" and "loitering" and that would probably lead us down a different rabbit hole since those words aren't exclusively associated with homelessness. "Decriminalize homelessness" is a phrase that is true to the lit base, even if it doesn't seem so on face value. A legalize option is more tricky in wording, because there is no literature that I could find that says "legalize homelessness." Generally homelessness is considered to be a negative thing -- not always but generally -- and so it's hard to find people who say that we should legalize it. I think if the choice is legalize, it might be better to collapse to specific laws, such as public camping or public encampments (two different laws there). Or, sadly, just not include it at all. It's really much better for decriminalization, tbh.

3. So I thought about this too, especially after coming across O'Connor's article. It would be easy to write the resolution to decriminalize or legalize "public order crimes" and avoid a lengthy list of topic areas. However I had trouble finding stable ground for what "public order offenses" or "public order crimes" means. This doesn't mean the ground isn't there, but there was definitely a lot less certainty over what those terms mean. I was grateful to find the O'Connor card because it painted the clearest picture for me. If you google "public order offenses" in quotations you will find that there are several terms of art that seem to describe similar sets of crimes but no one unifying term. Maybe this is better for T debate? I don't think it's a bad idea, but I'm not sure you're going to find as much solvency as you do when you list out individual crimes that should be decriminalized (or individual actions that should be legalized).

I'm happy to do some more work on this throughout the week. Wish I could be in KC with y'all, someone should eat too much bbq for me.

SB
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