Report Documents the Criminalization of Homelessness
Yale Law School
Nov 17, 2016

“The report documents the harms people experiencing homelessness suffer at the hands of the criminal justice system every day. People interviewed for the report described receiving citations for loitering while waiting on the corner for a shelter to open. Just for asking for a few dollars, individuals face $99 fines under anti-panhandling ordinances, according to the report. Initial contact with the criminal justice system often escalates and results in a downward spiral, students said. If people are too poor to pay their fine, they must contest the ticket in court. But those interviewed for the report faced high barriers to showing up on their court date. For instance, many people never received notice of their court dates because they did not have an address or lacked transportation to get to court. Failure to pay the fine or go to court can result in arrest and incarceration, making it even more difficult to obtain housing and employment. In this way, the criminalization of homelessness further entrenches a cycle of homelessness, poverty, and criminalization, the report argues.”

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