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Federal judge rules cities can’t prosecute homeless people

September 5, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Federal judge rules cities can’t prosecute homeless people

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Federal judge rules cities can’t prosecute homeless people

Cities can’t prosecute homeless people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six homeless people from Boise, Idaho, who sued the city in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in public spaces.

The ruling could affect several other cities across the U.S. West that have similar laws.

It comes as many places across the West Coast are struggling with homelessness brought on by rising housing costs and income inequality.

When the Boise lawsuit was filed, attorneys for the homeless residents said as many as 4,500 people didn’t have a place to sleep in Idaho’s capital city and homeless shelters only had about 700 available beds or mats.

The case bounced back and forth in the courts for years, and Boise modified its rules in 2014 to say homeless people couldn’t be prosecuted for sleeping outside when shelters were full.

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