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Legal Geography.docx

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1375
Olena Kobzar

1 Legal Geography: Policing Poverty through the Regulation of Public Space What is the purpose of criminal law? - To prohibit certain behaviors Who does it apply to? The Dangerous Poor: Marcus Aurelius: “poverty is the mother of crime” - Old prejudice: the poor are a dangerous lol: who will stoop to criminality if given the opportunity o Until 19 century weren’t allowed to vote o To keep this class away from power o Governance Question: How do you contain, control or neutralize the danger this class of people represents? Law and ‘Equality’: Anatole France: “The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread” 2 - The liberal notion is the idea is the we must treated equally before the law, either king, queen or whatever - It can also be a bad case, a rich isn’t going to escape under the bridge - The law only targets particular groups, the advocate of law discriminates Liberal Notion of Justice: we must all be treated equally before the law The Rule of Law: Distinction between the FORMAL side of the law (how the law reads) and it’s ACTUAL impact/purpose Urban Space: Laws regulating the use of space signify function of space + citizenship - Prior to 1994, TTC benches, City of Toronto signed a million dollar contract to architectures to design new seats - Reason was to avoid the appearance of homeless people in the public - To prevent homeless people from sleeping in the benches Citizenship in the City – Urban subjectivity - Who is the city for? - The city is designed for you to move 3 - Looking homeless treats you differently by law History of Vagrancy Law Dictionary Definition of Vagrant: someone who is both homeless and jobless and earns a living by begging 1869: 1 domestic VagrancyAct In the 19 Century British Law vagrants were divided in to three classes: an idle or disorderly person; a rogue and vagabond; and an incorrigible rogue Exceptions: the deserving poor – the impotent poor, the lame and disabled, the sic, disbanded soldiers and university scholar Canadian Criminal Code (1892): Statutory definition of vagrant: a loose, idle, and disorderly person who has no visible means to maintain himself without employment, who is able to work but neglect to do so, who loiters in the street without certification from a clergy - Loiters on any street, road, highway, or public place, and obstructs passengers by standing across the footpath, or by using insulting language, or in any other way - Causes a disturbance in or near any street, road, highway, or public place, by screaming, swearing, or singing, or by being drunk, or by impending or incommoding peaceable passengers - Two purposes of theAct: 1.) Deserving poor or vagrant “ Every one is a loose, idle or disorderly person or vagrant who (a.) not having any visible means of maintaining himself lives without employment; 4 (b.) being able to work and thereby or by other means to maintain himself and family wilfully refuses or neglects to do so; (c.) openly exposes or exhibits in any street, road, highway or public place, any indecent exhibition; (d.) without a certificate signed, within six months, by a priest, clergyman or minister of the Gospel, or two justices of the peace, residing in the municipality where the alms are being asked, that he or she is a deserving object of charity, wanders about and begs, or goes about from door to door, or places himself or herself in any street, highway, passage or public place to beg or receive alms; (e.) loiters on any street, road, highway or public place, and obstructs
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