In some cities a homeless person can be fined up to $1,300 for sleeping on the sidewalk. Since the homeless don’t usually have the funds to pay these fines (because they’re homeless) then they often end up with warrants for their arrest. San Francisco’s Presiding Judge John Stewart and his colleagues have dismissed over 66,000 arrest warrants for these type of ‘quality-of-life’ crimes.
This shocking habit of fining the less fortunate happens in more cities than you would think. It is also now illegal to feed the homeless in 33 U.S. cities. Homelessness charities have condemned these practices, saying that it turns rough sleepers – who are often escaping lives of abuse – into criminals.
According to the San Francisco Gate, Martin Halloran, head of the police union, said that Judge Stewart’s court was “sending a message that there is no accountability for what you have done, and the laws on the books can be violated with no repercussions. I don’t think it’s what the public wants.”
Thousands of others believe these laws are ridiculous attempts to sweep the problem of homelessness aside by simply criminalizing people for trying to live under the most destitute of circumstances.
Judge Stewart told the SF Gate that though the people have a right to be upset, he and his colleagues do not plan on enforcing punishment against the homeless population, saying “it’s the right thing to do.”
Image credit: Stock
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