Criminalizing Poverty: During Economic Crisis, New Laws Crack Down On America’s Poor, Homeless


As the Economic elite continue to rob wealth from 99.99% of the population and the Great recession of 2007-2015 rages on the number of laws cracking down on America’s poor and homeless has increased.

As I have previously reported the number of Americans living on food stamps has surpassed 46 million and that has been accompanied by “tent city” homeless camps spring up all over the nation.

As the Great Recession of 2007-2015 continues so has the theft of wealth by the economic elite. Over 52 million Americans currently live in poverty with projections showing that number will soon increase to over 100 million.

While our politicians give trillions of dollars of secret bailouts to banks they continue calls to cut social programs to fund our illegal perpetual wars.
It has become official policy to arrest and prosecute those feeding the homeless and criminalize Americans for living in Poverty.

The number of laws criminalizing poverty increased during the recession as the housing and homelessness crisis in America worsened.

Since 2006, there’s been a 7 percent increase in laws prohibiting camping out in public places, an 11 percent increase in laws prohibiting loitering, a 6 percent increase in laws prohibiting begging and a 5 percent increase in laws prohibiting aggressive panhandling, according to a recent report by The National Coalition for the Homeless.

At the same time, after a double-digit jump in 2008, homelessness increased by an average of 2 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness. Among families with children, homelessness increased by 9 percent. An average of 27 percent of homeless persons did not receive assistance last year because there weren’t enough beds or shelters would not accept children.

“In this economy, cities are facing really tight budgets, so they may not be able to build up or fund housing to meet the need,” Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, told USA Today. “Many people are being forced to live out on the streets.”

In an essay published this week in The Guardian, Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the New York Times bestselling book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” tells the story of a 62-year-old disabled veteran who was dragged from a homeless shelter to jail because he had an outstanding warrant for “criminal trespassing,” which is how Washington, D.C., defines sleeping on the streets.

In some areas of the country, Ehrenreich wrote, cities are even beginning to crack down on do-gooders who want to hand out free food to the homeless. Las Vegas passed an ordinance forbidding the sharing of food with any “person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance. In Florida, Gainesville law limits the number of people soup kitchens may serve daily. In Phoenix, zoning officials have stopped a local church from serving breakfast to homeless people.

The phenomenon of criminalizing poverty isn’t limited to the homeless, though. Kaaryn Gustafson of the University of Connecticut Law School compared applying for welfare, which may entail mug shots, fingerprinting and lengthy interrogations about child paternity, to “being booked by the police.” In Florida, legislators recently passed a law requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug screenings, according to CNN. People who can’t afford to pay court fees or traffic tickets in Michigan are made to sit in jail.

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Categories: ECONOMY

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