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San Francisco Makes a Plan to Criminalize Homelessness

Posted 49 months ago|19 comments|1,521 views
Help a Homeless Person
Written by
Help the Homeless
San Francisco, CA has a smashingly stupid idea to revamp the way they deal with repeat offenders. The offenders are homeless men and women who have been cited by the police for public urination or "aggressive panhandling". Once a homeless person is cited for their infraction, a bench warrant is issued if she doesn't show up for court. It appears the police rarely enforce the warrants and the homeless men and women shrug off the citation. The court or police refer to the tickets as quality-of-life infractions, as if that isn't ironic. Whose quality of life is getting impacted?

So, now some brilliant fool came up with the idea to round up the worst offenders and make them show up at court. Once in front of the judge they will be flogged with their indecent behavior, and then forced to choose between court or drug and alcohol counseling/treatment or housing. They want to make those inconsiderate homeless people accountable. Why not develop a system to step in before the arrest? One that does not tie up the court system or put another black mark on the person's life. Why not induce trained case workers who specialize in rehabbing homeless people? The difference between forcing and offering something reasonable is huge.

Surely, the courts and cops realize the issues getting in the way of a homeless person showing up in court to plead their case. Perhaps the point of the article and their upcoming enforcement of the law is that it does not matter who you are or where you live. But, I wonder if they want to clean up the problem because they care about the people or because they tired of complaints.

Anytime that we can help homeless people, I am for it. What concerns me in this issue it the option to go to jail, the idea that they arrest them first and offer help only when the homeless are between a rock and a jail cell. The current substance abuse system is flawed. If they want to actually rehabilitate they should not criminalize them first. There are so many issues involved in coming in out of being homeless that the regular population does not understand.

I am a huge advocate for giving a hand to someone who lost theirs. Homelessness is criminalized in our society way too often. It is also stereotyped way too much by the media, both the news and the entertainment industry. But, once you have walked in their shoes you will never see them the same. Too often others forget that the homeless are people, human beings. Let's help the homeless not criminalize them further.


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...
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COMMENTS
49 months ago: Boy, liberals have all the solutions, huh?

Liberals sure are compassionate, huh?
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Maybe there is a short term use for all of those FEMA camps before us radical TEA baggers are rounded up. Sounds like a good test program to me. I just ask for a good cleaning before I arrive.
49 months ago: Because what you propose costs big bucks.

As long as they aren't pissing and pooping on the street corner where all can see, shouldn't be a crime. Now if they are walking down the middle of the street, waving their tool around, pissing on everything in sight, that's a crime.

The old countries are laughing at our timidity about public urination, they have urinals on the streets, many are moving them to the side streets, but that's because Americans complain about them.
49 months ago: Everyone has to pee sometimes. What are you supposed to do when you don't have a home, no business lets you go w/o ordering food/drink, and you're broke and homeless? Piss in the alley. People think it's vulgar, it's human nature. I think urinals sound great.

Provide a reasonable solution to a problem and it's likely to be somewhat solved. Perhaps it's good that they are even trying to do anything since part of it offers forced help.

It is too bad that we put a price on life. It happens all the time. Stats say prevention/intervention pays for itself over time, but it's just business as usual. It's confusing to me.

@redstateguy - Someone has to have a solution.

@paper tiger - Yes. Exactly.
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
England
49 months ago: Re-Homelessness is criminalized in our society way too often

Mid pleasures and palaces thoughwe may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

J.H. Payne, Home Sweet Home.

Maybe if there were enough homes to go round, there would be enough respect to go round.
Altruist
Altruist
Eugene, OR
49 months ago: I am surprised Red isn't in favor of this. The main issue is that instead of just writing a citation and dismissing it they are enforcing the law.

It isn't really homelessness they are criminalizing though, it is the aggressive panhandling and peeing in public. This is an economic problem, an image problem that the Chamber of Commerce probably complained to the city council about who told the police to do something about. They want nice clean streets with polite people so tourists continue to spend money.

One "solution" would be to lock them up. That would be criminalizing the homeless, and would also be very expensive and ruin their lives forever.

Another would be to provide training, drug treatment, and a safe place to stay so they can get jobs and become useful members of society again.

I think that is what this program is ultimately working towards, but when people don't volunteer they have to drag them in.
49 months ago: Well, where do you pee when you don't have a home? You can only hold it so long.

I think the de-institutionalization that happened did much more harm than good. It is extremely difficult to even get treatment now, especially any time inside a facility. This is for substance abuse and mental health. The 24 hour hold and all that bs for mental health is a joke.

I'm not saying give homeless folks a pass, but come up with real solutions. If you offer treatment to someone who has been living on the streets, one way or another, for some time then that's what they know. A short stint in rehab is barely enough time to dry out and think straight alone be prepared for all that follows. Even if you don't need rehab the public mental health is downright ****ty.

A person who has a home, etc., and needs to appear for a ticket jumps in the car (for the most part), appears, pays, goes home. When you are homeless w/a court date, the calendar doesn't say "court date" on it. It says "survive another day."

It's a vicious cycle. And I mean vicious.
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Were they born homeless or did it take some time for them to decide that they wanted to be unproductive? My guess is most are over 18 years of age. Next you will want to give them a vote.
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Were they born homeless or did it take some time for them to decide that they wanted to be unproductive? My guess is most are over 18 years of age. Next you will want to give them a vote.
markbyrn
markbyrn
 Moderator
49 months ago: One "solution" would be to lock them up. That would be criminalizing the homeless, and would also be very expensive and ruin their lives forever.

Actually, up until the 1960's time frame, the mentally ill including vagrants were often involuntarily placed in state mental asylums and 'treated'. Notably, when Reagan was Governor of California, he signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967 which precluded involuntary commitment. While it was considered a plus for patients rights, it was primarily a budget measure to close state mental hospitals and shift the problem and cost to local communities and the criminal justice system.

As you noted though, it's expensive to lock people up, whether it's a jail, a mental hospital, or the the imagined FEMA camps.
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Mark, you forgot the imagined American concentration camps of WWII.
markbyrn
markbyrn
 Moderator
49 months ago: ..Mark, you forgot the imagined American concentration camps of WWII...

Yeah and I don't recall the 1940's Tea Party equivalents rallying to the cause of the internment of Japanese and European Americans - rather the opposite. Perhaps you could enlighten me otherwise. In fact, dateline 2007, "GOP Slams Effort To Study WWII Internment Camps in U.S.":

http://www.forward.com/articles/10953/#i...
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Who were the 1940's equivalents to the 2010 Tea Party?

Your people hunted down Americans and locked them behind barbed wire. Otherwise, the Democrats were in power in the 1940's. That dog won't hunt.

What needs to be studied? You want the GOP to fund a useless grant to come out and say it was wrong? OK. I'll save the country a few billion dollars and put a few liberals out of work.

It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Who exactly was in charge in the 1940's? What party? What KING of the U.S.?
markbyrn
markbyrn
 Moderator
49 months ago: ..Who were the 1940's equivalents to the 2010 Tea Party?...

Yes, the Dems had a Tea Party back in the day - they were called Dixiecrats and they started moving in droves to the GOP after LBJ had the temerity to push for Civil Rights.

...Your people hunted down Americans and locked them behind barbed wire...

Who's my people? That's like saying your people fought for slavery.
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Dixiecrats and LBJ is you best answer? They were still Democrats weren't they?
Can't blame the GOP for that mess. Your way off base.
The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: You ask "Who is my people" with regard to hunting down Americans not convicted of even a traffic ticket and locking them down in concentration camps.

My answer to who your people are...

non-oathkeepers of the constitution and anti-americans to boot.

The Military hunted down Americans and locked them away.

Does that need to happen again before your people realize the truth?

You never worked for the elected government of the U.S.

You worked for the people which voted. Those souls that were locked away by a decree of the KING.
markbyrn
markbyrn
 Moderator
49 months ago: Let me ask you again - which Republicans in the WWII era opposed the internment of Japanese Americans and other citizens back in WWII and why did modern Republicans oppose efforts to shed light on this disgrace? What's that old saying? Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.

The Cypress Gang
The Cypress Gang
49 months ago: Let me ask you again. Who was in charge that the military blindly followed while being contrary to the Consitution which they swore to uphold?
markbyrn
markbyrn
 Moderator
49 months ago: Are you trying to pretend that the GOP has some kind of love for the ACLU or civil liberties in general? In fact, a Republican controlled Congress pushed through the Sedition Act of 1918 which forbade the use of "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt. Of course in the 1950's, we had the McCarthy republican witch hunt era which dumped all over the Constitution that you claim to oath to.

In the current era, when Bush was prosecuting his daddy's unfinished war in Iraq, we had Cheney and company screaming about treason & sedition when citizens decided to protest the war. Than we had the civil liberty loving GOP passing the so called Patriot Act and regularly passing legislation to criminalize flag burning.

Does that mean the Dems are friends of the ACLU? No, but they do try to pretend while at the same often going along with the GOP.

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