Thursday, September 29, 2011

Boise and Fullerton Updates

Criminalization and National Updates

In 2009, the city of Boise Idaho passed a "No camping" ordinance to allow police to ticket those sleeping outside anywhere in the city.  Advocates and homeless individuals sued the city in order to strike down this broad law.   In 2011, the city amended the law to only allow police to ticket homeless people for "camping"  when the shelters were full.  This stopped the lawsuit which was declared moot, but it has scarey implications.  It has the impact of forcing people into shelter if they become homeless.  If there is a space available in Boise Idaho, you must sleep there or face a ticket from the police.  This is a backward way to provide help to those struggling with housing.  How can an agency or religious organization build a trusting relationship if the individual is forced into their care?  Isn't that a prison?  The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty is taking the lead nationally to overturn this law, and are debating appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

Also, the County Prosecutor out in Orange County/ Fullerton California has charged two police officers with murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kelly Thomas, a developmentally disabled homeless individual. The LA Times has praised the decision to charge the police officers, and I am pretty sure the National Coalition is going to weigh in soon on this issue. This arrest sends a signal to all law enforcement that they need to handle the mentally ill and developmentally disabled with some compassion or step aside and allow professional outreach teams handle the situation.  The description provided by the District Attorney in Orange County was chilling, and advocates are awaiting for additional charges against the other four officers who covered up this attack.  

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