Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Department of Justice Stand against the Criminalization of Homelessness

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A Reprint from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Liberty’s Last Champion ®

On August 6, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a landmark statement of interest in Idaho federal court arguing that when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, making it a crime for the homeless to sleep in public spaces is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The case, Bell v. City of Boise, et al., was brought by homeless individuals who were convicted under Boise city ordinances criminalizing sleeping or camping in public.”Homelessness should not be a crime, and those without shelter should never be punished as criminals. It is an unmitigated tragedy that the scourge of overcriminalization in America has reached a point where we have jurisdictions, such as the city of Boise, Idaho, that are prosecuting the circumstance of homelessness as a crime,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President E.G. “Gerry” Morris. “In another sign that the nation and its leaders have grown weary with the failed, decades-long experiment criminalizing all manner of human conduct, it is groundbreaking that the

Department of Justice today filed an elegant statement of interest essentially making the case that criminalizing homeless people who have nowhere to seek shelter constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Of course, as a society, our better instincts should have never allowed us to reach this point where we are punishing people for the very circumstance that calls out for us to be helping them.”

To learn more about NACDL’s extensive efforts to combat overcriminalization in America, visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim. You can also keep up with news and information on this important topic at www.facebook.com/endovercrim and www.twitter.com/endovercrim.

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