Vice Crimes and Preventive Justice

Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (3):561-576 (2015)
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This symposium contribution offers a reconsideration of a range of “vice crime” legislation from late nineteenth and early twentieth century American law, criminalizing matters such as prostitution, the use of opiates, illegal gambling, and polygamy. According to the standard account, the original justification for these offenses was purely moralistic and paternalistic ; and it was only later, in the late twentieth century, that those who supported such legislative initiatives sought to justify them in terms of their ability to prevent harms. This piece argues that the rationale for these vice crimes laws was much more complicated than has traditionally been thought, encompassing not just moralistic justifications but also a wide range of harm-based rationales—similar to those that underlie modern, technocratic, “preventive justice” legislation involving matters such as anti-social behavior orders, sex offender registration, stop-and-frisk policing, and the fight against terrorism



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Stuart Green
Rutgers University - Newark

References found in this work

Liberalism and Prostitution.Peter de Marneffe - 2009 - New York, US: Oup Usa.
The Enforcement of Morals.Patrick Devlin, Patrick Baron Devlin & Baron Patrick Devlin - 1965 - London ; New York [etc.] : Oxford University Press.
Markets in women's sexual labor.Debra Satz - 1995 - Ethics 106 (1):63-85.

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