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Jairus Thompson

14 December 2016
GP Research Paper
Criminalizing the Homeless
According to the Charlotte Observer newspaper article CMPD Gets It, the Criminal
Justice Advisory Group found that the same group of 58 homeless individuals were being
arrested frequently. Ninety percent of their offenses were nonviolent, 76 percent were
misdemeanors and 49 percent were QOL (Quality of Life) offenses. Most homeless people are
arrested due to public urination and also loitering due to them not having a place to go and
sleep it will be a second degree trespassing charge if found sleeping on a bench multiple times
and things like makes it challenging for homeless people to get housing or employment. Even
though some people believe criminalization is necessary to end some aspect of
homelessness, homelessness should not be criminalized, because criminalization
measures raise constitutional questions and violates the civil rights of homeless people,
city governments and law enforcement officials are able to provide assistance and
services, and criminalizing the homeless does nothing to address the underlying causes
of homelessness.
The discussion of homelessness and crime is important because there are many
homeless people in the community and surrounding areas and they are going to jail just for
sleeping on a bench or urinating in public. However, where else would they urinate? Especially
given that so many businesses does allow the public access to their restrooms. Did you know
that the largest numbers of homeless individuals in North Carolina live in the counties with large
urban centers, reflecting general patterns of population density: Mecklenburg (2,014), Wake

(1,170), Guilford (897), and Durham (758), as noted by the 2014 Homeless In North Carolina
Update report.
Criminalization measures raise constitutional questions and violates the civil rights of
homeless people.

According to Criminalization law, this violates a homeless person's

constitutional rights, and the Law Center is a national leader on this issue, who is taking on
high-impact litigation to establish positive legal precedents that can be used in courtrooms
across the country to combat this concern. As stated from the national law center on
homelessness and poverty. For example, after a six-year battle with the City of Dallas, the Law
Center recently secured the right of religious groups to provide food to homeless people living
outdoors. The Law Center also challenged St. Petersburg, Floridas discriminatory enforcement
of a trespassing ordinance, which was leading to the unconstitutional arrest of many homeless
persons for sitting on public sidewalks. In response, the City of St. Petersburg amended the
ordinance to include a minimum appeals process, and the Law Center continues to monitor
enforcement of the ordinance. Should some aspects of Homelessness be Criminalized ?
City governments and law enforcement officials are able to provide assistance and
As time warner cable news reports there are officers that help out other than giving out tickets.
One Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer was recognized for going above and beyond to help
Charlotte's population get off the streets."At first they're a little resistant, they're afraid they are
going to get locked up," said officer Robert Goodwin. The problem is that most often, people are
trespassing on private property. However, if it is alright with the owner, the police won't ask them
to leave.
For the past three years James Connell, 50, has called a homeless camp home. It is a
side of the city people don't often see "It feels very hopeless, I try to keep my head up. It's sad

because it depresses you, it takes away a lot of your emotion that makes you feel like the rest of
the world. I'm a human being, just like you're a human being, I just had a setback, said
Connell.Connell has had a string of bad luck.Read more about it when you open the link.

Even though some people believe criminalization is necessary to end some aspect of
homelessness., criminalizing the homeless does nothing to address the underlying causes of
homelessness. The concept of homeless people is the acceptance that homeless people live in
and move about public spaces. Even with the city ordinances or policies that regulate homeless
peoples activities, the daily functions of homeless people are now seen as criminal. . According
to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the NCH, in Homes Not
Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities from July 2009, of 235 cities
surveyed in 2009, 30% prohibited sitting or lying in some public places; 33% prohibited camping
in some places and 17% prohibited it citywide; 47% prohibited loitering in some places and 19%
prohibited it citywide; and 47% prohibited begging in some places, 49% prohibited aggressive
panhandling, and 23% had citywide prohibitions. The number of laws prohibiting sitting or lying,
begging, and aggressive panhandling in some public places had all increased from the previous
survey in 2006 by 5% or more. This demonstrates that these crime are simple public nuisances
that irritates people, more so than a crime.
The lack of housing and public shelter is a violation in and of itself. The Homes Not
Handcuffs states that as successful lawsuits have shown, "many of the practices and policies
that punish homeless people for the public performance of life-sustaining activities violate
homeless person's' constitutional rights." Yet, this does not solve the problem of homelessness.
Alternatives to criminalizing homeless behavior can be implemented with help from community
leaders and homeless advocates, who have intimate knowledge from close contact with the

homeless. Homes Not Handcuffs Details the innovative programs that some cities have put in
place to better deal with the problem of homelessness.
A key element in the most successful programs is the partnering of the local government
with advocacy organizations. For example, in Cleveland, Ohio, the city contracted with the
Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless to bring groups who serve food to the homeless
together to talk about how to improve services. Because the city was concerned about food
being served in the public square in the city center, the city provided a parking lot with access to
bathrooms and an indoor location 18 blocks to the east. The city also provided an overnight
indoor location where churches can bring food and clothing for distribution to the homeless.

Works Cited
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Quigley, Aidan. "What's Behind the Decline in Homelessness Among US Veterans?."
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Swan, Noelle. "In a US First, New Orleans Finds Homes for All Its Homeless Veterans."

<I>Christian Science Monitor</I>. 09 Jan. 2015: n.p. <I>SIRS Issues Researcher.</I>

Web. 18 Nov. 2016.