Vagrancy Laws

Vagrancy laws, legal codes written to discourage or punish those capable of working but who refuse to do so, have a long history in written law. Those in settled, urbanized societies have traditionally regarded transients and vagrants with suspicion and contempt, but these attitudes have fluctuated from culture to culture. Ancient Greeks and Romans regarded vagrants merely as a public nuisance that should be removed to the periphery, but the rise of Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam softened the view on vagrants, because these religions stress charity toward those less fortunate. During the Middle Ages, vagrants again came to be viewed as a potential threat, especially to public health. Modern interpretations of vagrancy law have moved generally from aggressive antiloitering legislation to more nuanced local codes. ...

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