Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Homeless are FREE! (Sort of)

Medford, Oregon

The judge has released two of the three homeless people, who have witnessed a crime in Medford out of jail, and placed them in (a pretrial release program) through the Local Control Unit of the Probation Department.

The two witnesses have to check in with the probation department daily, which puts them in a similar category to what happens when someone is charged with a crime and the judge wants to make sure that the person is around for the trail date.

The whole case started with the judge locking up three homeless people to make sure that they are available at the time of the trial. Obviously, the criminal justice system does not trust that homeless people are going to be easy to find, or does not take their word. The judge gave a remark that his reason was because they “were difficult to find by police” and “were not forthcoming.”

The judge also claimed to be open to alternative options, and almost three months after witnesses have been in jail without any charges, and with the increasing local and media attention, two of the three were released with conditions and restrictions.

Local attorneys and righteous groups have been putting a lot of effort and hard work to get the three out of jail. Some attorneys were filing with the federal court to protest the judge’s decision.

The case of those three witnesses shows how homeless people’s rights are being violated by the criminal justice system, and are being criminalized because they’re homeless. A similar case has occurred in Scranton, PA.

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