Consider the horror we feel when we learn of a crime such as
that committed by Robert Alton Harris, who commandeered a car,
killed the two teenage boys in it, and then finished what was left
of their lunch. What we don't consider in our reaction to the
depravity of this act is that, whether we morally blame him or not,
Robert Alton Harris has led a life almost unimaginably different
from our own in crucial respects.
In "Does Law Morally Bind the Poor? or What Good's the
Constitution When You Can't Buy a Loaf of Bread?," author R. George
Wright argues that while the poor live in the same world as the
rest of us, their world is crucially different. The law does not
recognize this difference, however, and proves to be inconsistent
by excusing the trespasses of persons fleeing unexpected storms,
but not those of the involuntarily homeless. He persuasively
concludes that we can reject crude environmental determinism
without holding the most deprived to unreasonable standards.
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