Criminalization of the poor

It is never a good time to be poor but the criminalization of poverty seems to be intensifying locally and internationally. In Vancouver this week, a homeless man died in a park in East Vancouver in broad daylight. According to witnesses, the firefighters and paramedics who eventually came to his aid taunted him with racist remarks.

In his blog, David Eby comments how the media was filled with stories about illegal and threatening acts by homeless people event though they weren't actually implicated in any illegal activity.

In the U.S., Barbara Ehrenreich has written an Op Ed piece for the New York Times about how cities across the US are passing bylaws that criminalize the poor and how criminalization impoverishes people. According to a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty the number of ordinances against the publicly poor has been rising since 2006, along with ticketing and arrests for more “neutral” infractions like jaywalking, littering or carrying an open container of alcohol.

More Information

"Newsflash: Bad time to be poor" - August 13, 2009, David Eby

"Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?" - August 8, 2009 - The New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich

Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities (PDF) - The National Coalition for the Homeless