By Max R. Weller
Read the article from the Daily Camera. Quoting from it below:
Municipal offenses can once again net a jail sentence in Boulder, and two new provisions — pedestrians interfering with traffic and “unlawful conduct” or breaking an administrative rule — have been added to the city’s criminal code.
The Boulder City Council gave unanimous, final approval Tuesday night to a suite of ordinances aimed at addressing what officials have dubbed “social misbehavior” on the municipal campus, including the lawn between the main Boulder Public Library and the Municipal Building, and in Central Park.
One of the ordinances reverses a change the City Council made in 2012 that removed jail as an option for first-time offenders. The intent then was to remove the possibility of a jury trial for most municipal offenses as homeless defendants accused of violating the city’s camping ordinance challenged that law by going to trial. However, a municipal court judge ruled that defendants still had a right to a jury trial.
City Attorney Tom Carr said prosecutors and judges frequently found themselves with defendants with long criminal records, but they couldn’t send them to jail because it was the first time they had been convicted of that particular municipal offense.
Carr said the majority of defendants still won’t be sentenced to jail, and the municipal court judges work hard to help offenders get social services when appropriate. However, the city needs more tools to deal with repeat offenders.
“Are we criminalizing homelessness?” he asked. “Most homeless people have never committed a crime. Most homeless people are more likely to be victims of a crime than commit one. What we have seen is that our public spaces are not welcome to people who are not engaged in criminal activity in some way. If you don’t control your public spaces, if you let them be taken over by criminal activity, you are banishing law-abiding people.”
It doesn’t affect either me or the majority of other homeless people one bit. The bad actors need to be held accountable, regardless of what the apologists/enablers say.
Boulder City Council has this one right. However, it’s still cheaper and more effective to give petty offenders from Denver and elsewhere the OPTION to get on the RTD bus leaving town, in lieu of a citation or arrest. Almost all of ’em would choose the bus ride, believe me.
Not for long . . .
Maybe there will be active enforcement; I certainly hope so. The public needs to keep the pressure on city officials.
Closing down the transient magnet in downtown Boulder known as Bridge House is another needed step . . .