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In any discussion of victimless crimes it must be noted that the term "victimless" is subject to much controversy. Most people have no trouble when applying the term to the public inebriate and this has been reflected in the fact that many jurisdictions no longer treat public drunkenness as a crime. When, however, subjects such as prostitution or private sexual behavior which may differ from the "norm" are discussed, there is a great variance of opinion. Whether we attribute it to our religious background or the puritanism of America's founders, the fact remains that many Americans do believe in legislating morality and do not believe that such acts are "victimless". In a bibliography on victimless crimes, however, these subjects should be included because, unlike a crime such as murder, it is difficult to ascertain exactly who constitutes the victim. For example, with prostitution, it is usually the prostitute who is punished for the crime; but who is the victim of that particular crime? One could say it is society as a whole, if society is morally outraged by the act, or one could say it is the government, because taxable income is not being reported. More generally, however, it is the prostitute herself who is considered the victim of her own crime. We have, therefore, included in this bibliography crimes which may or may not ultimately be considered victimless, but which, at the present time, are still subject to dispute.
The bibliography is divided into sections dealing with specific victimless crimes: drug use, gambling, pornography and obscenity, prostitution, public drunkenness, and sexual morality offenses. The final section treats decriminalization or legalization and includes items which deal with more than one of the crimes in the previous sections. This bibliography is by no means definitive; it is a selection of books, documents, and journal articles from the NCJRS data base which we consider to be of value in the continuing debate on "victimless" crime.