The emergency homeless shelter in Ukiah recently closed, forcing many homeless individuals in Mendocino county to wander the streets and sleep outside at night. The closure puts them at greater risk of being ticketed by police for illegal camping.
The city of Ukiah adopted an illegal camping ordinance in 2014, essentially criminalizing camping and homelessness.
Alan Schlosser, Senior counsel of the ACLU in Northern California wrote a letter to the city when the ordinance was on the city council meeting agenda in 2014.:
"...The Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits imposing criminal punishment for a person’s mere status. In Jones v. City of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit addressed this issue and held that in the absence of available shelter space, enforcement against homeless people of the City's ordinance which criminalized sitting, lying, or sleeping on public streets and sidewalks violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. 444 F.3d 1118, 1131-1137 (9th Cir. 2006).1 Notably, the court concluded, "whether sitting, lying, and sleeping are defined as acts or conditions, they are universal and unavoidable consequences of being." Id. at 1136. ..."