Homeless individuals face relentless abuse in Lancaster, ACLU alleges

A report launched Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California alleges widespread abuse of homeless individuals within the Mojave Desert metropolis of Lancaster.

Sheriff’s deputies contracted by the town routinely push homeless individuals into the inhospitable desert, the place they usually face extra stress from county officers, the report contends.

The report, “Banished and Abandoned,” describes a “dragnet of criminalization” throughout the metropolis limits during which deputies and metropolis code enforcement officers “repeatedly bulldoze encampments of unhoused individuals and get them organized to maneuver by risk of quotation.”

The actions push them out of the town into distant areas the place they must stroll lengthy distances for water and meals, the report stated.

ACLU researchers stated they analyzed public data, together with two years of misdemeanor citations, and interviewed 53 homeless in making ready the report. They discovered that citations have been disproportionately issued towards homeless individuals.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris defended the town’s procedures, which, he stated, are in line with a ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals ruling within the case of Martin vs. City of Boise, which discovered that the arrest of homeless individuals for sleeping in public was unconstitutional if no different place to reside might be offered.

Parris stated the town has finished greater than its share to serve its homeless inhabitants, having opened the Kensington Campus, a 14-acre complicated with a shelter, everlasting housing, jobs, counseling and different providers.

“I’m attempting to create an atmosphere the place people who find themselves disabled can thrive,” Parris stated. “I’m not going to only let individuals reside wherever they need, camp the place they need, extort cash from people who find themselves procuring.”

The report follows a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Superior Court docket by the ACLU and the UC Irvine Shopper Legislation Clinic alleging that Lancaster’s apply of assessing fines of as much as $1,000 for violations of anti-homeless legal guidelines is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit alleges that individuals are cited for sleeping in a vacant lot and even sitting exterior “and not using a motive.” The penalty is $500 for a primary quotation and $1,000 for a second. Full fee is required earlier than an enchantment might be filed.

ACLU senior workers legal professional Adrienna Wong stated the lawsuit developed independently over an incident during which the plaintiff, 68-year-old Leroy Butts, was cited whereas passing out pamphlets in Lancaster Park

Parris stated the regulation has been amended to permit listening to officers to waive the advantageous, and that full fee is now not required to enchantment.