Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s

Vagrant Nation Police Power Constitutional Change and the Making of the s In s America it was remarkably easy for police to arrest almost anyone for almost any reason The criminal justice system and especially the age old law of vagrancy played a key role not only in m

  • Title: Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s
  • Author: Risa Goluboff
  • ISBN: 9780199768448
  • Page: 298
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In 1950s America, it was remarkably easy for police to arrest almost anyone for almost any reason The criminal justice system and especially the age old law of vagrancy played a key role not only in maintaining safety and order but also in enforcing conventional standards of morality and propriety A person could be arrested for sporting a beard, making a speech, or workiIn 1950s America, it was remarkably easy for police to arrest almost anyone for almost any reason The criminal justice system and especially the age old law of vagrancy played a key role not only in maintaining safety and order but also in enforcing conventional standards of morality and propriety A person could be arrested for sporting a beard, making a speech, or working too little Yet by the end of the 1960s, vagrancy laws were discredited and American society was fundamentally transformed What happened In Vagrant Nation, Risa Goluboff provides a groundbreaking account of this transformation By reading into the history of the 1960s through the lens of vagrancy laws, Goluboff shows how constitutional challenges to long standing police practices were at the center of the multiple movements that made the 1960s Vagrancy laws were so broad and flexible that they made it possible for the police to arrest anyone out of place in any way Beats and hippies Communists and Vietnam War protestors racial minorities, civil rights activists, and interracial couples prostitutes, single women, and gay men, lesbians, and other sexual minorities As hundreds of these vagrants and their lawyers claimed that vagrancy laws were unconstitutional, the laws became a flashpoint for debates about radically different visions of order and freedom In Goluboff s compelling portrayal, the legal campaign against vagrancy laws becomes a sweeping legal and social history of the 1960s Touching on movements advocating civil rights, peace, gay rights, welfare rights, and cultural revolution, Vagrant Nation provides insight relevant to this battle, as well as the battle over the legacy of the 1960s transformations themselves.

    One thought on “Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s”

    1. I did find this book to be very compelling in the fact that the police did use the Vagrancy law to which any officer within the same agency saw fit. One officer might pass something by then in a few minutes time another officer would happen by and fill a whole paddy wagon full of "Vagrants" up even though they had jobs, money and a place to live. The police raids and stereotyping were just hard to believe. This all began before the civil rights era and also at the beginning of the Cold War. It w [...]

    2. I received a copy of Vagrant Nation by Risa Goluboff from its publishers, Oxford University Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.With its subtitle of 'Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s' and the fact of it having been written by a law professor, I did wonder if I might struggle to understand Vagrant Nation. Happily, it is remarkably accessible for non-lawyers or law students and, other than an occasional legalese phrase or two, I not only comfortab [...]

    3. American common law and statutes for centuries criminalized vagrancy. In theory that was a way to maintain public order by corralling suspicious strangers, wanderers and people hanging around (for example) jewelry stores with no particular purpose. In practice it was an incredibly flexible law that allowed cops to bust anyone they didn't approve of — labor organizers, hippies, interracial couples, civil rights activists, homosexuals and buskers. Goluboff traces the challenges to the law from 1 [...]

    4. This is much more than important scholarshipAs a retired lawyer whose career tracked the '60's, I found this extraordinary work of legal scholarship consoling. This is a work of good sense. Many things that changed in my time have felt disturbing. But now, thanks to Dean Goluboff, I begin to see the point. I suggest you read it and see how you FEEL.

    5. Ultimately, there is no single story of vagrancy statutes, which results in a book that at times struggles with vignettes of legal challenges spread across the nation and over several decades. Prof. Goluboff does yoeman's work trying to corral the multiplicity of vagrancy statutes and their applications. The laws themselves are as diverse as the evils they were intended to address: idle men, race mixing, homosexuals, labor organizers, political nonconformists, etc. The book ably follows the vari [...]

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