The debate has gone on for probably a century or more about so-called “victimless crimes”. Many of the intellectuals, reformers, libertarians and elites advocate doing away with any sanctions or criminal penalties for victimless crimes. Those who have worked in law enforcement, especially in areas that address what many consider victimless crimes, would dispute that fact that there are no victims.
A good example is prostitution. Many would like to legalize it, control and health check the prostitutes, tax it and confine it to designated areas. The only problem is that even where it is legalized in such a way, illegal prostitutes still ply their trade. And there are many victims. In areas where streetwalkers operate, there is a plethora of victims. Women who live in those areas who are not prostitutes are often accosted verbally and occasionally physically by the “johns” looking for hookers. The spouses of those johns often contract STDs that their mates have brought home. Mothers in these areas must watch their small children to make sure they don't pick up the debris, (used condoms, hand towels, napkins), left by the streetwalkers and their customers. The prostitutes themselves are more often than not victims of illegal drug addiction. In addition to STDs, they often incur and pass along other diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis.
The debate seems to have moved on from victimless crimes to the latest leftest fad: survival crimes. I wrote a column years ago in a newspaper about how the socialist trend was to decriminalize crimes committed by poor. If memory serves, the thrust of the article was that socialist judges would not sentence poor people who committed petty thefts and non-violent burglaries, rationalizing that the rich could afford it and no one was “hurt”. That prediction is coming true.
In cities that are controlled by radical left wing Democrat progressives, like Seattle and San Francisco, the city police have been asked or ordered not to make arrests for certain crimes committed by the homeless and prosecutors are not filing cases if arrests are made. The leftists either believe the misconception or don't care to believe the facts. They think that the homeless are the victims of high rent, low paying jobs or discrimination.
Christopher F. Rufo reports in the Autumn 2018 issue of CJ Magazine that 80 percent of the homeless suffer from drug and/or alcohol addiction and 30 percent suffer from serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He also rebukes the myth that the homeless want help but are unable to get it because of a lack of services: “County data contradict their claims: 63 percent of the street homeless refuse shelter when offered it by the city’s Navigation Teams, claiming that 'there are too many rules' (39.5 percent) or that “they are too crowded” (32.6 percent).”
Here's the unfortunate truth: most of those who are now called homeless, in the past, were taken off the streets and put in cells for public intoxication, urinating or defecating in public, possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia, shoplifting, petty theft or disturbing the peace. Decades ago, those who exhibited mental disorders, could be evaluated by psychiatric experts and placed in mental institutions for periods of months or years or until they were evaluated as sane. Speaking of sanity, some sociologists are calling this “pathological altruism”. They describe this as “altruism which attempts to promote the welfare of others [but] instead results in unanticipated harm” according to engineer Barbara A. Oakley.
The political leaders in these cities come up with pseudo philanthropic phrases to justify their destructive policies. They say they want to “decriminalize homelessness” or poverty, so they order law enforcement to not to arrest these people for “Survival Crimes”. There are major problems with not arresting and prosecuting these so inaptly named survival crimes.
First, it encourages more of the homeless to commit these crimes. It causes more people who commit these crimes to claim homelessness. It divides Americans even more by excusing one group of people for crimes, while prosecuting others. These homeless camps, in addition to being unsightly, cause major environmental problems because they are fraught with litter, used hypodermic needles, urine and piles of feces and the diseases associated with those things.
Most important of all, these policies are counter productive. Seattle spends almost a billion dollars a year to combat their homelessness problem, but it grows every year. One Seattle crime adviser stated that the lack of drug enforcement [against the homeless] has functionally legalized heroin, crack and meth in that city.
The reality lessons should be apparent: Don't arrest and prosecute survival crimes and increase homelessness. Enforce the law and greatly decrease homelessness.