Thursday, August 13, 2015

"It is Once Again Legal to Sleep in U.S.A."

We all need sleep, which is a fact of life but also a legally important point. Last week, the Department of Justice argued as much in a statement of interest it filed in a relatively obscure case in Boise, Idaho, that could impact how cities regulate and punish homelessness.
Boise, like many cities — the number of which has swelled since the recession — has an ordinance banning sleeping or camping in public places. But such laws, the DOJ says, effectively criminalize homelessness itself in situations where people simply have nowhere else to sleep. From the DOJ's filing:
"When adequate shelter space exists, individuals have a choice about whether or not to sleep in public. However, when adequate shelter space does not exist, there is no meaningful distinction between the status of being homeless and the conduct of sleeping in public. 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."
Such laws, the DOJ argues, violate the Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, making them unconstitutional.

By weighing in on this case, the DOJ's first foray in two decades into this still-unsettled area of law, the federal government is warning cities far beyond Boise and backing up federal goals to treat homelessness more humanely.  (Washington Post)

Criminalizing Poverty, and specifically Homelessness has been a trend in cities within the United States of America for near a decade. The Feds have finally taken notice, and said basically.....

  "Hold it ya "Bleep'n  Cruel Scumbags' being Poor is not a Crime!"

The nation wide trend to make War on the Poor is one of the more shameful aspects of life in the "Land of the Not so Free as we Used to Be."

The 19th century British "Poor Laws" come to mind. To be poor was to be suspect at all times. Sort of like walking shopping or driving while Black, but more democratic. It included 'everybody'...that was poor.

 ...or appeared to be.

Btw the some cities have appealed. They actually 'want' to continue to persecute the poor. Sort of like the State Rep. Tom Brower from Hawaii  who went after the homeless with a 'Sledge Hammer' instead of a plan to house them. 

State Representative Tom Brower proudly stands in front of a Homeless Encampment he helped destroy.

Good grief!

This addition to my sweaty editorial from dear comrade Bodmin.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894, chapter 7
French novelist (1844 - 1924)
So what's new? The streets of Boise, the bridges of Paris, criminalizing poverty has a long history.

Stay Tuned.


  1. I'm astonished - pleasantly so - that the DOJ has come down on the right side in this one.

    Would it be impolite to mention that Rep Tom Brower is a disgusting piece of shit, as are those like-minded to him?


  2. Um..probably not. Representative Brower is clearly as disgusting a piece of Doody as one can encounter. Believe me before the Pooper Scooper Laws I met a wide, and horrifying variety of Ex-Dog Food.

    The morally unfortunate representative tops them all.

    Yes Whoopee, and Huzzah to the D.O.J. for finally getting one right. This proves that a busted clock is right twice a day.

  3. This is good news. I will be telling my homeless friends.