Vagrancy Statutes

Vagrancy Statutes

You work for the prosecutor’s office in a fairly large midwestern city. A big political convention is coming to your city, and your police chief has been getting pressure from the mayor to “crack down” on homeless people and prostitutes. As a result, the police initiated a comprehensive sweep by using a vagrancy ordinance that prohibits, among other things, “common night walkers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, and habitual loafers.” Four people who were arrested are protesting that this ordinance is unconstitutional. Answer the following questions:

a. Is this ordinance unconstitutional? Why or why not?

b. What are your options in dealing with these four defendants, and what would be the wisest move? The easiest move?

c. How should this situation be resolved to avoid similar future occurrences? Why?


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