‘Inhumane’: ACLU opposes Wooster ordinance that would fine homeless

WOOSTER, Ohio-- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is urging the city of Wooster to reject a proposed ordinance that would fine homeless people $150 for refusing shelter.

The ordinance would prevent police from arresting or citing a homeless person if there is no space available at a city shelter. Wooster Law Director John Scavelli said the person would be subject to penalties only if the offer is refused.

"We're not trying to get money out of homeless people, we could care less if they paid a single fine. We're trying to help get people off the street," Scavelli told FOX 8 last week.

On Monday, the ACLU and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sent a letter to city council and Scavelli, calling the proposal "constitutionally problematic."

Read the ACLU Letter to Wooster City Council

"Harassing, ticketing and/or fining people who are homeless is inhumane and counterproductive. Saddling people with fines for being without shelter does nothing to improve their situation. There are outreach strategies in homeless services that do not involve the criminal justice system, respect the rights of the individual and have been effective in keeping people sheltered and safe," the ACLU said in the letter.

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