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Various questions regarding law and order in America

1. Would the US be better served to remove from the criminal statute all laws that are not enforced, such as laws against small time gaming and sexual activity between certain consenting adults? Does the refusal to enforce some laws while others are strictly enforced undermine respect for the law in general?

Yes, the US would be much better served if they removed unenforced laws from the books. Actually a combination of removing obsolete laws and actively enforcing existing laws would be a vast improvement over the current system. Not only do we currently have laws that are obsolete, we have other laws that are pertinent to our society today and yet either they are not enforced or they are enforced sporadically. This has several results. First it leaves room for doubt in the minds of the citizens. There is a good chance that I'll get caught but there is a small chance that I won't and if I do get caught there is a chance I will not be punished. Therefore, if the risk is manageable and the potential positive outcomes are attractive enough people may choose to disregard the law.

This does have the effect of a growing disrespect for the law in general. An excellent example of this principle is the Era of Prohibition. Prohibition was an ambiguous law that was virtually impossible to defend. It was a law that was morally admirable but politically untenable. Because the law was ridiculous and because it was either enforced in a sporadic fashion or not enforced at all, prohibition became a joke. This disrespect for the law had an "innocent" side and a dark side. The innocent side involved the "speakeasy" where fashionable and upstanding citizens could go to break the law in a civilized way. Flappers, the Charleston and rum runners epitomize this glamorous side of rebelling against prohibition. The dark side was dark indeed. Gangsters vied for control of the black market in alcohol. The corner on the alcohol market coincided with organized crime's control of prostitution, gambling and other vices. Al Capone, Scar Face and Baby Face Nelson are some of the more well-known gangsters of this time period. Massacres in the streets of Chicago and other urban metropolises were fairly common.

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1. Would the US be better served to remove from the criminal statute all laws that are not enforced, such as laws against small time gaming and sexual activity between certain consenting adults? Does the refusal to enforce some laws while others are strictly enforced undermine respect for the law in general?

Yes, the US would be much better served if they removed unenforced laws from the books. Actually a combination of removing obsolete laws and actively enforcing existing laws would be a vast improvement over the current system. Not only do we currently have laws that are obsolete, we have other laws that are pertinent to our society today and yet either they are not enforced or they are enforced sporadically. This has several results. First it leaves room for doubt in the minds of the citizens. There is a good chance that I'll get caught but there is a small chance that I won't and if I do get caught there is a chance I will not be punished. Therefore, if the risk is manageable and the potential positive outcomes are attractive enough people may choose to disregard the law.

This does have the effect of a growing disrespect for the law in general. An excellent example of this principle is the Era of Prohibition. Prohibition was an ambiguous law that was virtually impossible to defend. It was a law that was morally admirable but politically untenable. Because the law was ridiculous and because it was either enforced in a sporadic fashion or not enforced at all, prohibition became a joke. This disrespect for the law had an "innocent" side and a dark side. The innocent side involved the "speakeasy" where fashionable and upstanding citizens could go to break the law in a civilized way. Flappers, the Charleston and rum runners epitomize this glamorous side of rebelling against prohibition. The dark side was dark indeed. ...

Solution Summary

A discussion ranging over several topics regarding law and order. Is capital punishment effective? What should be done about laws that are on the books but never enforced? Should judges be political - voice political opinions? Over 1,250 words of original text.

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