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Indybay Feature
Wed Jun 29 2011
Homelessness in California is Now Punishable by a Year in Jail
Wed Jun 29 2011
California Laws Make it Illegal for Homeless People to Sleep at Night
For protesting on the county steps against Santa Cruz laws that make it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night, homeless activists Gary Johnson and Attorney Ed Frey were sentenced to 6 months in jail on June 10th. Bail was set for Ed Frey at $50,000. Their only act of civil disobedience was sleeping. This occurred at a three month protest called “Peace Camp 2010”. Revealing the political nature of the draconian sentences, Judge Gallagher told Gary Johnson that he “could get some sleep in jail” before they were dragged away in chains for their 6 month sentences.

The law for which Gary Johnson and Ed Frey were arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced was Penal Code Section 647(E), for “unlawful lodging”. This is a California state law. It was also recently used in August 2010 by the Santa Barbara Police to ticket Courtney Caswell-Peyton, a Santa Barbara disabled woman who fell asleep in her wheel chair.

In May 2011, this anti-homeless law 647(E) was made even worse with the State Legislature making a second violation punishable of up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine. So now homelessness in the state of California is punishable by up to a year in jail if one is caught doing it twice.

Voting for this worsened anti-homeless law were Democrats and Republicans alike, including local Santa Cruz Democrat and darling of many reformist liberals, Bill Monning.

Read more | previous coverage: Homeless Activist Gary Johnson and Rights Attorney Ed Frey Jailed for Sleeping Protest
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