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Homelessness and Crime

Homelessness and crime in the United States have intertwined since at least the 17th century, when Elizabethan era poor laws regulated vagrancy through forced labor and incarceration. In a more contemporary context, a systematic examination of the intersection between homelessness and crime covers three areas. The first addresses the range of situational factors and personal characteristics that render homeless individuals more vulnerable to becoming involved with the criminal justice system. Second, homeless advocates have charged that many jurisdictions respond to homelessness by criminalizing various aspects of homeless living in an effort to drive homeless persons out of sight or out of town. Finally, just as increased risks of arrest and incarceration are endemic to being homeless, being involved in the criminal justice system and, in ...

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