The criminal justice system and homelessness are closely related. Being forced to live outside can result in citations or arrests for minor infractions like loitering or sleeping in public places, which increases the likelihood that those experiencing homelessness will encounter with the legal system. Additionally, those who are or have been involved in the criminal system are more likely to experience homelessness since they are frequently cut off from services and face housing and employment discrimination.
Due to institutional and systemic racism in the housing, employment, and other systems, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people are also exaggerated in both groups. To better address homelessness, decrease the usage of jails, strengthen communities, and guarantee that everyone has access to safe and permanent housing, local leaders must grasp the relationship between homelessness and the criminal justice system.
In order to explain the cycle of homelessness and incarceration and offer solutions, we gathered data from the Urban Institute and other specialists. This blog explores a repetitive cycle that oppresses the homeless in the US and restricts them from achieving stability: the decriminalization of homelessness.
Criminal record leads to imperative Homelessness
A person may lose their work, housing, and personal relationships during a jail or prison stint, leaving them without supports after they are released. Additionally, prejudice in housing and employment can make it difficult for those with criminal records to get a job or a secure home, leaving them with no choice but to turn to homelessness. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 50,000 people a year enter shelters directly from prisons. This estimate excludes the unknown number of persons who are compelled to live outside right away after being imprisoned or who attend shelters following a period of turmoil.
Lack of shelter and Run-ins with the Justice System
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty reports that, in a survey of 25 US cities, 78%prohibit sleeping in public places, and 60% make it illegal to sleep in one’s own vehicle. These ordinances criminalize people for doing what they must to survive and leave them with no choice but to break the law. People experiencing homelessness are also more likely to have run-ins with the police.
In a survey of individuals in shelters, 25% said they had been stopped by the police in the past month, and 12% said they had been arrested. These interactions with law enforcement can lead to increased surveillance and involvement in the criminal justice system, which can result in citations, tickets, and arrests—even for minor offenses like trespassing or public urination.
Frequent cycling through the justice system can result in what is known as “criminal justice debt,” which includes fees and fines related to an arrest or conviction that must be paid off before a person can move on with their life. This debt disproportionately affects low-income people and can trap them in a cycle of poverty and homelessness.
A study by the Urban Institute found that, in 2016, 44% of state and local governments imposed fees on defendants, and the median amount was $50. Once these fees are imposed, failure to pay can result in additional fees, warrantless arrests, and even jail time. This system disproportionately affects Black people, who are more likely to be arrested and charged with crimes than their white counterparts—even when controlling for crime rates. In a 2016 study, the Urban Institute found that Black defendants were charged $13 more in fees on average than white defendants. The combination of criminal justice debt, lack of housing, and employment discrimination creates a perfect storm that can push people into chronic homelessness.
The homelessness-jail cycle is expensive for taxpayers
The cost of this cycle falls on taxpayers, as well. A study by the National Law Center on Homelessness &Poverty estimates that US taxpayers spend $22.02 billion annually on the combined costs of health care, law enforcement, and incarceration related to homelessness. The cycle of homelessness-jail, in addition to damaging people’s well being and failing to provide them with housing and resources, is expensive for taxpayers.
A person experiencing long-term homelessness in Denver, where Urban is evaluating the city’s supportive housing social impact bond initiative, had 24contacts with police over the course of 90 days in 2016. These contacts included four citations, one arrest, one stay in jail, and 18 other types of contacts, such as being told to move along. The cost to the city for this 90-day period was about $4,000, and it only illustrates the experience of one of the many Denver residents caught in the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.
The cycle of homelessness and incarceration can be broken via Housing First
Housing First is an evidence-based approach that provides people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing without preconditions, such as sobriety or employment, and then links them to supportive services. This model has been shown to be cost-effective and successful in reducing both homelessness and involvement in the criminal justice system. Housing First is an effective solution to breaking the cycle of homelessness and incarceration because it provides people with permanent housing without preconditions, such as sobriety or employment. This model has been shown to be cost-effective and successful in reducing both homelessness and involvement in the criminal justice system.
How Can You Help?
There are several ways you may assist the homeless if you’re interested. You can support neighborhood shelters or groups that assist the homeless by donating money or materials. Additionally, you can donate your time to assist with meal preparation, clothing drives, or other tasks at shelters. Homeless persons who reside in shelters have access to resources like food and healthcare as well as a safe place to remain. If you want to assist the homeless, think about giving supplies or money to nearby shelters.
Additionally, you can donate your time to assist with meal preparation, clothing drives, or other tasks at shelters. There is always a need for volunteers at organizations that assist the homeless. By working with non-profits like Community Reach, you can help house the homeless in Florida and prevent them from cycling through the criminal justice system. Community Reach is a Florida-based non-profit organization that provides housing and supportive services to people experiencing homelessness. You can help them break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration by donating to their cause.
How can you Help with Philanthropic Shopping?
Philanthropic shopping is a new way to shop where you can donate to a cause with every purchase. It’s an easy way to give back, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. You can support Community Reach by shopping where 100% of your payment goes to charity. There are many ways to get involved and help break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.
Philanthropic shopping is one way that is easy and doesn’t cost you anything extra. You can also support shelters and non-profits like Community Reach by donating your time or supplies. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. There are many ways to get involved and help break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration. Philanthropic shopping is one way that is easy and doesn’t cost you anything extra.
You can also support shelters and non-profits like Community Reach, by donating your time or supplies. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. If you’re interested in philanthropic shopping, check out our list of recommended stores. You can support Community Reach with every purchase, and 100% of your payment goes to charity. With your help, we can break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.