Today, Judge Barajas, a Denver County Court Judge, ruled the Denver Camping Ban unconstitutional based on 8th amendment violation of “cruel and unusual punishment.” The judge found that homeless people, like Jerry Burton whose ticket led this case, cannot be criminalize for using cover to try and survive outside when they have no other option. The judge recognized the insurmountable limits of the shelter system including hours or access, people who are banned, and all different reasons shelters are not an option for people. Human beings cannot be forced into shelter like jail, and this ruling shows any reasonable person can understand the mere existence of a space in a shelter does not make that a viable or livable option for someone to be. Hence criminalizing people for being poor with no home and surviving on the streets is cruel and unconstitutional.
This ruling comes only days after the Supreme Court let stand the 9th circuit court ruling that camping bans are unconstitutional on similar grounds.
The local ruling of Judge Barajas does not in itself repeal the unconstitutional Camping Ban. It finds the law unconstitutional and dismisses Jerry Burton’s case. An actual repeal requires action either from a higher court or from Denver City Council.
Denver City Council should act immediately under this ruling to align the city law with the constitution and repeal the Unauthorized Camping Ban!!! To continue to keep this law on the books is not only unconstitutional, it puts the city at risk of spending millions more dollars appealing this ruling to a higher court just to get the same ruling – you can’t criminalize people for survival.
Message to Denver City Council: Act NOW and repeal this UNCONSTITUTIONAL law. Direct Denver police to stop enforcing this unconstitutional law by getting the law off the books NOW.
This ruling makes it ever more clear that cities only option to “solving” homelessness is creating attainable housing. Sweeping people out of sight will not be an option any more.
This case was led by attorney Andrew McNalty of Kilmore, Lane, and Newman. Thanks for all of his hard work on this critical case!!