DOJ: Bans on homeless sleeping outside are unconstitutional

DOJ: Bans On Homeless Sleeping Outside Are Unconstitutional

Ongoing legal action could change the way law enforcement approaches the homeless.
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a statement of interest which argues that it is unconstitutional to criminalize people sleeping outside if the area lacks the number of beds to accommodate them indoors.

And those who enact and enforce laws prohibiting sleeping in public are, in effect, making homelessness itself illegal for a population with no other options.

The statement was submitted for the case Bell versus City of Boise, a federal lawsuit filed by a group of homeless people who were arrested for camping and sleeping on city grounds.

The plaintiffs are claiming this action violates their Eighth Amendment rights which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

According to a 2014 report by a homelessness advocacy group which helped to file the original suit, 53 percent of 187 surveyed cities had laws making it illegal for people to sit or lie in select public spaces.

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