“On Monday, the Attorney General issued a stern order to state court officials to stop, forthwith, targeting poor and homeless people and throwing them in jail for being too poor to pay fines for the crime of being too poor to have a place to live.
In the strongly worded letter to court chief justices and administrators, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta and Lisa Foster of the Office for Access to Justice leveled some harsh criticism against state judicial and law enforcement officials for arresting and jailing the poor as a revenue source. The letter said in part,
“In addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared not toward addressing public safety, but rather toward raising revenue, they cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.”
To read the full length article click here.
We want to applaud the Human Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for standing up against ordinances that criminalize homelessness. Attorney’s for the Justice Department argued that homeless persons sleeping outside are having their 8th Amendment rights violated by ordinances against them.
“Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless,” the filing stated.
“Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights,” Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, said in a statement.
To read the entire court document click here.
To learn more the criminalization of food sharing and public sleeping from the National Coalition for the Homeless click here.