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Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment

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Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment

David Levinson

Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Homeless Men and Crime

Bill McCarthy & John Hagan

Homeless men are a diverse group. They include those whose economic resources or behaviors make it difficult to obtain housing, as well as those who choose to be homeless. Depending on the historical period, Americans have labeled these men as vagrants, hoboes, tramps, bums, migrants, skidrowers, urban nomads, and the displaced. At times, scholars, the general public, and the homeless themselves have emphasized differences between these men, debating the characteristics that distinguish, for example, a hobo from a migrant; at other times people have simply grouped these people together and called them the homeless. One of the earliest conceptualizations of the homeless was that of the vagrant. Vagrants were typically defined as people who had no visible means of support and who traveled from area to area. They were a concern in England as early as 370 CE, but laws against vagrancy reached a pinnacle in the fourteenth through sixteenth ...

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