Idaho Can’t Prohibit Homeless Residents From Sleeping in City Streets, Court Rules
BOISE, ID – September 5, 2018
A Federal Appeals Court ruling stated on Tuesday that cities across the US can’t prosecute people for sleeping in the street, if they have no place to go. This case is especially important for Boise, the capital of Idaho, since it started from six homeless residents suing the city back in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in parks and other public places. Now, almost 10 year after that day, the Federal Court decided that not just Boise, but no other American town or a city can do so.
When the Boise lawsuit was filed, attorneys for the homeless said no less than 4,500 people didn't have a place to sleep in the capital of Idaho, and there were only about 700 beds or mats available in shelters, where homeless people could stay. The case bounced back and forth in the courts for years, and Boise modified its rules in 2014 to say homeless residents couldn't be prosecuted for sleeping outside on nights when the local shelters were full.
However that didn't solve the problem, the attorneys said, because Boise's shelters limit the number of days that homeless residents could live there. Two of the city's three shelters require some form of religious participation for some programs, making those shelters unsuitable for people with different beliefs, the homeless residents said.
The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit found that the shelter rules meant homeless people would still be at risk of prosecution even on days when beds were available for them. The judges also said the religious programming woven into some shelter programs was a problem due to freedom of religiouss matters.
Eventually, the biggest issue the court found was that the city of Boise's law violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment, which was completely unacceptable.
Thus, after the ruling from the Federal Appeals Court homeless residents of Boise now have all rights to sleep in public, no matter what the society and the police think about it.