Against possible dumpster dive ban in Modesto

A REBUTTAL FOR MODESTO CITY COUNCIL TRYING TO MAKE DUMPSTER DIVING A CRIME . TAKEN FROM WEBSITE FOR NATIONAL COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS

(A) Economic Consequences
It is more expensive to detain a person in jail than to house and offer services. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty 2003 report, Punishing Poverty: The Criminalization of Homelessness, Litigation, and Recommendations for Solutions, the cost of providing jail, excluding the cost of the police resources used in the arrest, exceeds $40 per day. Some sources say the daily cost is as much as $140. In comparison, the average cost of providing counseling, housing, food, and transportation for one day is approximately $30

(B) Political Consequences
Laws criminalizing the circumstances of poverty, as well as sanctioned or unsanctioned actions committed by law enforcement officials, may violate both state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution. For example, laws prohibiting or limiting panhandling and begging may violate the First Amendment. The seizure or destruction of homeless peoples’ property may violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. Laws prohibiting sleep and other necessary activities in public spaces may violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, discriminatory enforcement of such laws may constitute a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which assures equal protection under the law

(C) Individual Consequences
The criminalization of homelessness makes the struggle to survive on the streets even more difficult, depressing, demoralizing, and frightening, especially as the criminal justice system can itself act as a major barrier to individual efforts to escape homelessness. Regardless of the number of ordinances passed, homeless people still must EAT, sleep, and survive in public because often NO ALTERNATIVE is available to them….Policies of criminalization defeat their own goals of removing homeless people from public visibility because they simply create further barriers for survival and undermine individual efforts to escape homelessness. Such policies keep more people on the streets and increase problems related to homelessness. When individuals are released from jail, they are still homeless, and they have even more barriers and obstacles to overcome than before.

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