Constitutional Right to Sleep

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“Homelessness never left town because somebody gave it a ticket,” Tars says. “The only way to end homelessness is to make sure everybody has access to affordable, decent housing.”

It’s unconstitutional to ban the homeless from sleeping outside, the federal government says, Washington Post, August 13 2015, By Emily Badger

In this case, Plaintiffs are homeless individuals who were convicted of violating certain city ordinances that prohibit camping and sleeping in public outdoor places.7 They claim that the City of Boise and the Boise Police Department’s (“BPD”) enforcement of these ordinances against homeless individuals violates their constitutional rights because there is inadequate shelter space available in Boise to accommodate the city’s homeless population. Plaintiffs argue that criminalizing public sleeping in a city without adequate shelter space constitutes criminalizing homelessness itself, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

But these concerns are not at issue when, as here, they are applied to conduct that is essential to human life and wholly innocent, such as sleeping. No inquiry is required to determine whether a person is compelled to sleep; we know that no one can stay awake indefinitely. Thus, the Court need not constitutionalize a general compulsion defense to resolve this case; it need only hold that the Eighth Amendment outlaws the punishment of  unavoidable conduct that we know to be universal. Moreover, unlike the hypothetical hard cases that concerned the Powell plurality, the conduct at issue in the instant case is entirely innocent. Its punishment would serve no retributive purpose, or any other legitimate purpose. As the plurality in Powell itself noted, “the entire thrust of Robinson’s interpretation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause is that criminal penalties may be inflicted only if the accused has committed some act [or] has engaged in some behavior which society has an interest in preventing.” Powell, 392 U.S. at 533 (emphasis added)

-JANET F. BELL, et al. V. CITY OF BOISE, et al., STATEMENT OF INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES, Case 1:09-cv-00540-REB Document 276, United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Filed 08/06/15

Criminalizing Violates Human Rights

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Page 27: Criminalizing homelessness violates basic human rights as well as treaties that our country has signed and ratified. In 2012, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed, in a major joint report, Searching out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness. The agencies noted that, in addition to raising constitutional issues, criminalization of homelessness may “violate international human rights law, specifically the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” Since then, the USICH has repeatedly addressed criminalization as not only a domestic civil rights violation, but as a human rights violation.

Page 30: Criminalization measures waste limited state and local resources.70 Rather than addressing the causes of homelessness and helping people escape life on the streets, criminalization “creates a costly revolving door that circulates individuals experiencing homelessness from the street to the criminal justice system and back.”71 A growing body of research comparing the cost of homelessness to the cost of providing housing to homeless people consistently shows that housing, rather than jailing, homeless people is the much more successful and cost-effective option.

No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in US Cities (PDF), July 2014, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP)

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Exacerbating the Problem

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Violations do result in arrest in many cities, however. And the NLCHP points to a number of reports finding that the cost of enforcing these laws greatly exceeds the amount it would cost to provide people with options like affordable housing or shelter.

“Arrested homeless people return to their communities, still with nowhere to live,” the report states. “Moreover, criminal convictions — even for minor crimes — can create barriers to obtaining critical public benefits, employment, or housing, thus making homelessness more difficult to escape.”

‘Illegal to be homeless’ in growing number of cities, CNN Money, July 16 2014, by Blake Ellis @blakeellis3

ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP)

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Quotes From: ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

C. Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Crimes of Trafficking in Persons
b. Develop pro-active investigation methods and where appropriate, to conduct surveillance and other pro-active measures to gather evidence to establish a case to prosecute trafficking in persons cases even without the testimony of victims;
c. Enhance efforts to investigate alleged cases of trafficking in persons, strengthen the means to combat trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators, including through more systematic use of freezing assets for the purpose of eventual confiscation in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the ACTIP, and ensure that penalties are proportionate to the gravity of the crime;
e. Prosecute crimes of trafficking in persons that encompass all forms of exploitation and enact, enforce and strengthen legislation that criminalises all forms of trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
f. Combat and prosecute organised criminal groups engaged in trafficking in persons, in accordance with domestic laws;
g. Investigate, prosecute and punish corrupt public officials who engage in or facilitate trafficking in persons and promote a zero-tolerance policy against those corrupt officials consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;

ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, (ACTIP) of 2015, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Guideline 3 – Possession is Foundational to Slavery

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Possession is foundational to an understanding of the legal definition of slavery, even when the State does not support a property right in respect of persons. To determine, in law, a case of slavery, one must look for possession.

While the exact form of possession might vary, in essence it supposes control over a person by another such as a person might control a thing. Such control may be physical, but physical constraints will not always be necessary to the maintenance of effective control over a person. More abstract manifestations of control of a person may be evident in attempts to withhold identity documents; or to otherwise restrict free movement or access to state authorities or legal processes; or equally in attempts to forge a new identity through compelling a new religion, language, place of residence, or forcing marriage.

Fundamentally, where such control operates, it will significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty for a period of time which is, for that person, indeterminate.

Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines on the Legal Parameters of Slavery by the Members of the Research Network on the Legal Parameters of Slavery, March 2012

Super-Predator Mythology

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The predictions of “super-predators” proved wildly inaccurate. The juvenile population in America increased from 1994 to 2000, but the juvenile crime rate declined, leading academics who had originally supported the “super-predator” theory to disclaim it. In 2001, the surgeon general of the United States released a report labeling the “super-predator” theory a myth and stated that “[t]here is no evidence that young people involved in violence during the peak years of the early 1990s were more frequent or more vicious offenders than youths in earlier years.” This admission came too late for kids like Trina, Ian, and Antonio. Their death-in-prison sentences were insulated from legal challenges or appeals by a maze of procedural rules, statutes of limitations, and legal barricades designed to make successful postconviction challenges almost impossible.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Children in Prison

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By 2010, Florida had sentenced more than a hundred children to life imprisonment without parole for non-homicide offenses, several of whom were thirteen years old at the time of the crime. All of the youngest condemned children—thirteen or fourteen years of age—were black or Latino. Florida had the largest population in the world of children condemned to die in prison for non-homicides.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Business Law: Intellectual Property Theft

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“Put as much in writing as possible and save that documentation. By creating a paper trail, you’ll have proof of your concept if it does go to court. Keep a log of every discussion you have where details of your business are disclosed. This log could come in handy if you find one of those conversations go somewhere.”

7 Simple Ways You Can Protect Your Idea From Theft, Forbes.com, by Drew Hendricks

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“To make sure your next million dollar idea isn’t stolen or copied, we enlisted the help of specialists in “idea security” to find out how you can avoid becoming a hard luck story…Rather than trying to avoid attention, flag ideas as your own even at an early stage. “Use the right symbols in your media and marketing material alerts,” recommends David Bloom, head of Safeguard iP, a specialist Intellectual Property (IP) insurance broker. Patent and design numbers can be added later…”

5 ways to stop your ideas being stolen, CNN.Com, by Kieron Monks

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“Turn to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for help. Fortunately, patents aren’t the only tools available to protect our ideas. First, file a provisional patent application. You can do this yourself online or use a template such as Invent + Patent System or Patent Wizard to help you. The USPTO also has call centers available with staff members on hand to answer questions and offer guidance.”

How to Protect Your Business Idea Without a Patent, Entrepreneur.com, by Stephen Key

“Tortious interference with business occurs when another person directly interferes with a business’s ability to operate. This offense usually involves other offenses, such as defamation. However, if a person steals your idea and then actively works to prevent you from bringing your idea to fruition, this could constitute tortious interference.”

What Is the Legal Term for Stealing a Business Idea?, AZCentral.com, by Van Thompson

“I say do what you can. Do the legal end when it’s practical, but don’t trust it. Don’t think it solves the problem.

You’ll never get a legitimate investor to sign one of those documents before you pitch. If an investor signs off on a non-disclosure, she’s just ruled out a whole class of business she can never invest in without risking legal action. They just don’t do it.

And, I think lots of people who you might want as team members would be put off with the idea of signing a legal document before talking about it. I would.”

How to Really Protect Your Business Idea, BPlans.com, by Tim Berry

Business Law: Libel, Slander and Defamation

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“Libel and slander are types of defamatory statements. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement…slander is an oral defamatory statement, so those statements can be made anywhere and to anyone — as long as it’s to a third party, meaning someone other than the person who is allegedly being defamed. If you tell your best friend something defamatory about person X, person X could sue you for defamation if he/she could prove that he/she was damaged as a result of your statement.”

Libel vs. Slander: Different Types of Defamation, NOLO.com, by David Berg

“”Defamation” is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel,” and spoken defamation is called “slander.” Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming.”

Defamation Law Made Simple: Learn the basics of slander and libel — the rules about who can say what without getting into legal hot water, NOLO.com, by Emily Doskow

“Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images. The laws governing these torts are identical…To prove that the material was defamatory, the plaintiff must show that at least one other person who saw or heard it understood it as having defamatory meaning. It is necessary to show not that all who heard or read the statement understood it to be defamatory, but only that one person other than the plaintiff did so. Therefore, even if the defendant contends that the communication was a joke, if one person other than the plaintiff took it seriously, the communication is considered defamatory.”

Libel and Slander, The Free Dictionary

“The general harm caused by defamation is identified as being ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, belittled or held in contempt by others, and lowers him/her in esteem of a reasonably prudent person, due to the communication of the false statement. This tort can result in a lawsuit for damages.”

“Malice – if intentional malice can be shown/proven, than the act usually qualifies as defamation for damage to one’s reputation. However, even without this, if it is obvious that the statement would do harm and that it is untrue, one can still pursue this tort if he/she can demonstrate actual/tangible harm, such as loss of business (called special damages).”

Defamation Law – Guide to Libel and Slander Law, HG.Org

“Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation. On one hand, people should be free to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. Discourse is essential to a free society, and the more open and honest the discourse, the better for society.”

Defamation, Libel and Slander, Defamation Law: The Basics, FindLaw.com

“defamation: n. the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel and, if only oral, it is slander…Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime, having a feared disease or being unable to perform one’s occupation are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed.”

Defamation on Law.com

“Defamation—also calumny, vilification, and traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.”

Defamation on Wikipedia

The Power of Maps

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“This could have been any makeshift bridge across any creek, and the forest on the other side was just the same: tall pines, earthy smell, calls of distant birds. The only difference was in her mind, knowing she had crossed the lines on the map. It was enough to make this another world.”

“He held back, looking at her with panic in his eyes. She hadn’t realized how much she’d taken crossing the border for granted. How deeply ingrained the rules had been until she’d met Artegal by accident.”

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn