Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Criminalizing Beggars and Those Who Help Them

Maybe that is putting it a little strongly;). The Fresno Bee had an article in today's paper about how the city is going to deal with those who panhandle on medians. It appears that the City Council intends to make it illegal for people to panhandle on the medians.

Calhoun said he hopes that City Attorney James Sanchez will write an ordinance that gives police officers authority to ask people to leave median islands on city streets, and to cite those who don't.

Calhoun also said that citing drivers who give money to panhandlers would further discourage the practice.

In theory I can really get behind this movement. It is a bad place to cause a delay but what is the feasibility of a law forbidding it? Are you going to put these people in jail? If I was homeless and needed shelter for the night I might break that law just for the jail. Or better, are you going to fine them? You might have a hard time collecting.

Then there is the other side of this. So if you support the "needy" you will get cited? I think this just further dulls people's sense of charity.

I also think there are further enforcement issues. How much will this cost the city in manpower? Will we allow them to do the same thing from the side of the street? Currently the Fire Fighters will have an exemption for their "Fill The Helmet" Fundraiser. But the premise of this is out of safety so how does all this jive? I guess we will see.
Sanchez said he would look at ordinances in other cities and what exemptions they allow before drafting new rules for Fresno to consider. Sanchez will present his recommendations to the council within 60 days.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: