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Should homeless people be criminalized - Essay Example

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Summary
Homeless people are often accused of being drunks, drug-addicts, and criminals. The fact of the matter is homeless people themselves are the constant and unprotected victims of violent people, who humiliate them for mere entertainment. The police seldom take serious these reports, leaving homeless people to fend for themselves…
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Should homeless people be criminalized
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Should homeless people be criminalized

Download file to see previous pages... Thus Dignity Village was born. It is home for people who might otherwise inhabit doorways and sidewalks. However, some organizations petition and pressure local government, asking officials to not allow homeless people to set up similar camps in their communities. For example, "Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process" and its internet-site http://tentcitysolutions.com/ are propagating, which helps "to learn about tent city and what you can do to protect our community from this lawless social experiment". However, it does not tell anything concrete except for criminalizing homeless people. There are prejudices based on race, nationality, gender, and religion. In this case, it seems to be based on economic class (Anderberg, 2005).
The growing body of laws passed by local governments criminalizes activities necessary to survival on the streets. Because people without homes often have no option but to perform necessary functions in public, they are vulnerable to judgment, harassment and arrest for committing "nuisance" violations in public.
Police routinely stop people they suspect are homeless, ask for identification and run warrant checks. The underlying assumption behind these actions is that homelessness is a "public safety" issue. Therefore, cities attempt to eliminate visible homelessness through enforcing "quality of life" ordinances, which seek to improve the "quality of life" of housed and higher-income individuals by removing from sight those people who look poor and homeless. Arrest and incarceration has become an expedited way of removing individuals from sight.
Unfortunately, many people justify criminalization as a "benevolent" means of coercing individuals into treatment and other services that are not voluntarily available. However, we should remember that there are some causes for the growing amount of homeless people. The first cause is employment crisis: 42% of homeless people, nationwide, work. However, the income they earn is not sufficient for accessing safe, affordable and appropriate housing. In many cities the majority of available emergency housing or shelter costs at least $7.00 per night. Labor Pools become the trap for homeless people who must pay for their shelter and take whatever income-producing work is available.
Then, access to health care for individuals experiencing homelessness is limited and difficult to obtain. Homeless people with chronic illnesses often do not continue receiving treatment or medication in jail. With incarceration comes an increased risk of contracting chronic illnesses or serious health problems such as tuberculosis and hepatitis.
Because of the limited availability of mental health care facilities, many individuals with mental health problems live on the streets or are incarcerated in jails where they are unlikely to receive the treatment they need. In many cities residential treatment and recovery for addictions are not readily available. As a result, cities often jail users.
Such approach has its negative consequences not only for homeless persons but for the whole society. It is more expensive to detain a person in jail than to house and offer services: 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 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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