Washington Post- 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.
"Homelessness is just becoming more visible in communities, and when homelessness becomes more visible, there’s more pressure on community leaders to do something about it," Tars says. "And rather than actually examining what’s the best thing to do about homelessness, the knee-jerk response — as with so many other things in society — is 'we’ll address this social issue with the criminal justice system.'"
You know, it’s a question that we, as society, don’t think about enough, how are we going to go about about punishing the homeless? I got to say, I’ve grinded the gears on this one and I have come up with only one possible solution. You may want to sit down for this. Ready? Perhaps we should just let them do the same shit they been doing. I know, I know. Hot Take City, Population Bob. It’s almost like I am taking it too easy on the people that don’t have a single possession, that doesn’t fit in a garbage bag, to their name. Like I am a homeless apologist or something. How dare I think that not having a roof to live under isn’t punishment enough.
Real quick though, what’s a punishment to a homeless person? The only think I can think of is a public stoning. I know we aren’t treating prison likes it’s a punishment, right? Other than the whole forced anal thing, prison is like a goddamn Club Med compared to living on the streets. You get food, even if it is barely edible. You get showers, even if you do come out of them bleeding profusely from the rectum. You get a cell mate that can talk to occasionally. Hell, according to every movie/TV show I have ever seen, you even get an outdoor gym. That’s like the homeless person equivalent of a time share in Hawaii. Sex, food, recess, showers? That’s quite the vacation from sleeping on a park bench smelling like your urine (only your own, if you're lucky). A couple minutes ago we were trying to punish them and now we are trying to overcrowd our prisons with people that would gladly skip behind bars with a gleam in their eye and a smile on their face? How about we just stick to persecuting people that have a negative impact on society, instead of the people that are a mere sidewalk speed bump on our way to work?