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Criminal Justice and Moral Issues

Robert F. Meier and Gilbert Geis

Publication Date - 29 July 2005

ISBN: 9780195330601

272 pages
6 x 9 inches

"The writing style is extremely clear and the treatment of topics very balanced, providing an approach that examines the issues fairly and head-on."--Richard A. Ball, Pennsylvania State University


This text addresses the following two questions: "What kinds of problems can the law solve?" and "What kinds of problems does the law create?"

Using these questions as starting points, Meier and Geis evenhandedly explore the role and function of law relating to six major issues that often divide Americans today: prostitution, drug use, homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and gambling. Statutes and public opinion have shifted dramatically over recent decades in regard to these behaviors. The book details these developments and offers explanations of why they have occurred.

Some people view all or some of these behaviors as acts that ought to be permitted, as part of individual freedom. Others find one, some, or all of them to be genuine threats to the country's social and moral fiber and believe that they ought to be criminalized. Still others maintain that action ought to be taken to limit some of the behaviors, but that using the criminal justice system is not the best way to proceed.

Meier and Geis' provocative book offers sophisticated, in-depth discussions of these issues, then reviews the conflicting opinions about the proper role of criminal law in dealing with them. It is written in straightforward, jargon-free language, providing an ideal background for exploring the facts and views regarding what are often contentious concerns.

Criminal Justice and Moral Issues increases student understanding through the abundant use of relevant illustrations, examples, and case studies.


"The writing style is extremely clear and the treatment of topics very balanced, providing an approach that examines the issues fairly and head-on."--Richard A. Ball, Pennsylvania State University

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Morality, Harm, and Criminal Justice
    Crimes Without Victims?
    The Notion of Harm
    Morality and Criminal Law
    Suicide and Attempted Suicide
    Physician-Assisted Suicide
    Bad Samaritans
    Motorcycle Helmets
    Determining Moral Standards
    Chapter 2: Prostitution/Sex Work
    The Biblical Heritage
    Criminal Law and Prostitution
    Explaining the Law's Intransigence
    Prostitution and Sexual Liberation
    The Cast in the Performance of Prostitution
    Urban Enforcement: Los Angeles
    The BMW Caper
    The Hollywood Madam
    Licensed Brothels: Nevada
    The Wolfenden Report and Kerb Crawling
    Feminism and Prostitution
    Legalizing Prostitution: Yeas and Nays
    Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and AIDS
    Other Impacts of Prostitution
    Prostitutes, Pimps, and the Public
    The Prostitute/Sex Worker
    Impact of Prostitution on Society
    For Legalizing Prostitution
    Against Decriminalizing Prostitution
    Chapter 3: Drugs
    What Is a Drug?
    Patterns of Drug Use
    Illegal Drug Use: Marijuana
    Illegal Drug Use: Heroin
    Illegal Drug Use: Cocaine
    How Much Do Illegal Drugs Cost?
    The Relationship Between Crime and Drugs
    Drug-Defined Crimes
    Drug-Related Crimes
    Drug-Using Crimes
    Current Drug Policies and How We Got There
    Drugs, Race, and Ethnicity
    The Prohibition Experience
    Modern Legal Prohibitions
    The Netherlands' Approach to Drug Control
    What Kind of a Problem Is 'Drugs'?
    Decriminalization Does Not Solve the Problem of Drugs
    Chapter 4: Homosexuality
    Defining Homosexuality
    Homosexual Behavior
    Homosexual Preference or Orientation
    Homosexual Identity or Self-Concept
    Causes of Homosexuality
    The Biological Perspective
    The Learning Perspective
    Public Opinion and Homosexuality
    The Regulation of Homosexuality
    The Social Regulation of Sexuality
    Religious and Legal Regulation of Sexuality
    The Consequences of Legal Regulation
    The Gay Movement and Gay Communities
    Two Additional Issues
    Same-Sex Marriages
    Homosexuality as a Protected Status
    Chapter 5: Abortion
    Theology and Abortion
    Roman Catholicism
    Abortion Before It Became Legal
    Roe v. Wade and Its Progeny
    Roe v. Wade (1973)
    The Webster Decision (1989)
    The Casey Decision (1992)
    The Partial-Birth Abortion Act (2003)
    Unborn Victims of Violence Act (2004)
    RU-486 (Mifepristone)
    Plan B: The Morning After Pill
    Parental Notification and Abortion
    How Many Abortions Are There?
    Abortion Views in Context
    Arguments: Pro and Con
    Arguments Against Legalized Abortion
    Arguments for Legalized Abortion
    Chapter 6: Pornography
    The Ubiquity of Pornography
    The Pornography Industry
    The Pornography Commissions
    Public Concern Over Pornography
    The Regulation of Pornography
    The Law and Pornography
    The Effects of Pornography
    Harmful Effects
    Positive Effects, or Potentially Beneficial Functions of Pornography
    The Feminist Response to Pornography
    Chapter 7: Gambling
    The Context of Gambling
    Casino Gambling
    Slot Machines
    Riverboat Gambling
    Native-American Casinos
    Internet Gambling
    Gambling on Numbers
    Lotteries Re-emerge
    Off-Track Betting
    Chapter 8: Conclusion
    Harm, Risk, and the Law
    Can the Law Create Problems?
    What Should We Call Them?
    The Wolfenden Report
    Are There Limits to Law?
    Alternative Controls
    Harm to Others
    Are They Enforceable?
    What Problems Are Appropriate for Law?
    Author Index
    Subject Index

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