Vice Crime (SD 470)


This course explores the past and present law and policy pertaining to crimes of vice. We will focus primarily on six areas - drugs, alcohol, gambling, socially condemned sexual behavior, pornography, and prostitution. Prosecution of crime in these areas is of tremendous importance today, not only because it constitutes a significant portion of the criminal docket, but also because it raises hard questions about the proper scope of the criminal law. We will start by looking at the law itself, reviewing past and present vice codes to determine what the law allows and what the law prohibits. With that foundation in place, we will ask whether the law we have is the law we want: are the legal regulations governing drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc., well-fashioned? Do they go far enough? Do they go too far? More fundamentally, why does the criminal law concern itself with these "morals offenses" at all? Along the way, we will also look at how social and political attitudes toward vice have shaped vice law, consider whether law enforcement practices are and have been consistent with the vice law on the books, and try to find lessons in the law of vice that can help us understand or reform other areas of the criminal law.


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