Supreme Court refuses case about using criminal law against homeless

The court’s refusal to take up the issue is a setback to some states and cities [looking to criminalize] homelessness. They had hoped a federal appeals court ruling would be overturned, allowing them to prosecute people who sleep on streets when they claim shelter beds are unavailable. Boise had appealed the ruling, hoping to enforce its ban on camping in public.

…The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled last year that prosecuting homeless individuals violated the Constitution because their situation was an “unavoidable consequence of one’s status or being.” 

…”A city that criminalizes both sleeping on private property and public property when no alternative shelter is available leaves a homeless individual who cannot obtain shelter with no capacity to comply with the law.”

…The notion of recriminalizing homelessness at a time when shelters are bulging enrages advocates.

…A 15% increase over three years in the number of cities that punish homeless people for sleeping in public, even as the number of unsheltered homeless rose by 10%.

Advocates for the homeless say citations or …[having] police clear the streets of homeless people who have nowhere else to go [by arresting them for the crime of poverty] amounts to “arresting exhausted, deeply poor and vulnerable Americans struggling to meet the most basic human need for sleep.”

Supreme Court refuses case about using criminal law against homeless


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