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Sally Stanford - Poor Beginnings

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Sally Stanford, named Marcia Busby at birth, was the second of six children born to a poor family in Baker, Oregon. Her mother was an English teacher and her father an unsuccessful farmer. Marcia had an older sister and a younger brother. The family commonly called her Marcy while growing up. Developers built a golf course in Baker, and at just seven years old, Marcy caddied for the golfers earning fifteen cents a round to help support the family.

Marcy's education stopped at the third grade when her father moved the family to Sunnyslope, a town located five miles outside of Baker on the old Oregon Trail. (The Oregon Trail was opened in 1842. It was a trail from the Middle West to what is now western Oregon taken by thousands of migrants.) From there the family would move often between Oregon and California through the following years.

or Both Vices or Crimes


A longstanding debate among criminologists concerns how to treat certain crimes. Some argue activities such as gambling, drug use, pornography, and prostitution should simply be considered social "vices" (immoral actions) and not crimes. While they may be morally offensive, they should not be the subject of criminal laws. These activities are often called "victimless crimes" because they usually involve an agreed upon exchange of goods and services between adults. Some believe if these vices are decriminalized, it would decrease government involvement in people's lives and reduce criminal caseloads in court.

Opponents to decriminalizing vice crimes argue that these crimes impose financial and social costs on individuals and society in general. As a result, they should not be considered victimless. They point out that compulsive gamblers and drug addicts are often driven to steal in order to support their expensive habits. The resulting victims endure the costs of replacing damaged or stolen property as well as increasing costs of protection and insurance.

In regard to prostitution, it affects women, children, and minorities more so than other groups and places them at risk of assault and health dangers. Individuals, and society as a whole, face increased costs for medical treatment and the spread of disease both nationally and internationally. Inaddition, prostitution is seen as one of soci ety's clearest expressions of the sexual domination of men over women and young people.

In 1873 Congress took a major step in criminalizing vice by the passage of the Comstock Law. The act targeted what it considered obscene literature, sought to restrict the flow of birth control information, and was used to fight abortion. In 1910 at a peak in vice-fighting in the United States, Congress passed the Mann Act. The act targeted what it termed "white slavery," or forced prostitution. The law assumed that all women in prostitution were involved against their will.

Congress concluded that women and girls in prostitution had become indentured sex slaves, forced into prostitution for someone else's financial gain because of the debts they owed. Specifically, the act made it a federal crime to transport women over state lines for immoral or sexual purposes. In the first five years of the act, over one thousand defendants were found guilty of Mann Act violations. Most offenders were male, but a study found some 160 women were convicted in one ten-year period beginning in the late 1920s.

In later times, fear rose of drug-addicted prostitutes becoming slaves, kept in houses and given drugs in exchange for sex with the dealers and their clients. In 1986 Congress amended the act to include any sexual activity that could be considered a criminal offense.

An aunt soon took Marcy in but died when Marcy was a young teenager. She was next sent to help her uncle and grandparents in Santa Paula, California. There she met a young fellow named LeRoy Snyder. They both lied about their age to marry. The marriage was annulled (legally ended) nine days later and Marcy returned to Oregon, where she went to work as a server in a restaurant and met another young man. The two were caught passing bad checks and Marcy ended up at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

By this time Prohibition (1919–33; law making alcohol illegal) was just beginning. The Prohibition laws banned the sale, possession, and production of alcoholic beverages. While in the Oregon prison Marcy learned about bootlegging, or supplying illegal alcohol to willing customers, from other inmates. She was just eighteen years old when she was released from prison. She moved to Ventura, California, and set up her own bootlegging business.

Using the name Marcia Wells, she bought a white Packard automobile and purchased an old Spanish house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Her bootlegging operation was booming when she met Ernest Spagnoli, an attorney from San Francisco, California. At the age of twenty, Marcia married Spagnoli and moved to San Francisco. The couple soon divorced, but not before they had adopted a baby boy. With money left over from her bootlegging, Marcia bought a little hotel at 693 O'Farrell Street in 1929 and began operating a brothel.

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