Cities Can’t Criminalize Homelessness, Appeals Court Upholds Ruling

On April 1, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its ruling from last September 2018 that people who are homeless cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives.

Last September, a panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the premise in the lawsuit that “as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”

The Ninth Circuit rejected a petition from the city of Boise in Idaho to rehear the case. The court’s decision affirms that within the court’s jurisdiction, “the Eighth Amendment preclude[s] the enforcement of a statute prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to alternative shelter.” The eighth amendment prohibits excessive fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.



Photo: “My Street Photography” by Alan Light is licensed under CC BY 2.0