Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Nicole R. Green
In general, loitering refers to the act of loafing about a specific location. States and localities in the United States have a long history of enforcing laws against loitering in public areas. Early U.S. antiloitering laws were identical to English laws regarding vagrancy. However, over time, these laws were forced to evolve in order to pass constitutional muster. Recently, localities throughout the United States have attempted to use antiloitering laws to thwart gang activities, drug dealing, prostitution, the soliciting of alms, street gambling, and other behaviors that have the potential to affect citizens’ quality of life. Although antiloitering ordinances usually apply to people of all ages, they are often used, either in conjunction with or in lieu of youth curfews, to keep youths from congregating in public areas during evening hours—a condition that often elicits fear among community members. Violators of antiloitering laws may be told to “move along,” fined, ...