Bakersfield Proposes Fighting Homelessness by Jailing People for Misdemeanor Drug Offenses

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A Bakersfield police vehicle makes patrols on Nov.17, 2017 in Bakersfield, Kern County, California. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

A Bakersfield police vehicle makes patrols on Nov.17, 2017 in Bakersfield, Kern County, California. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

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In the face of an ever-growing homelessness crisis, cities across California have been searching for solutions, from adding shelters and affordable housing to improving mental health and substance abuse services.

But in Bakersfield, officials are considering a more radical approach: They want to put homeless people in jail for misdemeanor drug offenses and potentially for trespassing.

The tactic would fly in the face of criminal justice reform over the past decade in California, as the state has leaned away from incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes. It also would counter mainstream thinking on preventing homelessness and addressing the reality of it.

The plan, which is being spearheaded by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Kern County Dist. Atty. Cynthia Zimmer, remains in its early stages. But it has widespread support from the corridors of power in Bakersfield and Kern County.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

 

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