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When Being Poor in Seattle Was a Criminal Offense
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Season 2018
Episode 17
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Mossback’s Northwest

When Being Poor in Seattle Was a Criminal Offense

Season: 2018
Eps: 17

In 1872, Seattle council passed Ordinance 32 that outlined punishment for vagrants — the idle, dissolute, immoral, profligate, or the unemployed — by specifying that they could be put to work. Many offenses earned a sentence on the chain gang: Swearing, drunkenness, illegal gambling, patronizing prostitutes. But for many, the only offense was being poor.

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