South Carolina Council Reverses Criminalization Law

We posted two blog entries about the absurd Columbia South Carolina law that would require homeless people to seek shelter or go to jail.  With all the national attention and pressure put on the City from national groups like the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center, the petitions on and the national media stories was too much for the City Council.  They backed away from the law and will go in a different direction.  It is amazing to me that they did not have the backing of their own police, and that not one council member saw the potential problems associated with this legislation to vote against it. 

According to the Huffington Post which quoted the Columbia Free Times,

“I will take responsibility for that getting into the public discourse,” Councilman Cameron Runyan said on Tuesday about his suggestion to force homeless people into confinement, according to the Free Times. “That is not the desire…We are not going to forcibly confine anyone.”

Instead the City is planning to expand outreach efforts with vans and will try the old standby of discouraging people from giving to panhandlers.  While certainly not as punative, these new efforts will have about as much success as their last plan.  The City Council does not seem to understand how federal benefit programs work.  They are proposing to steal the food stamp and social security benefits from the disabled and impoverished to pay for these programs.  We hope that this plan is adopted so that Columbia's City Council members can face Justice Department lawyers who could seek indictments for shaking down poor people to pay for government services.  Is Columbia South Carolina being run by a group of middle schoolers who have not yet passed their government classes?

Brian Davis

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