Do Not Legalize Imprisonment and Killing of the Homeless

Target: Jared Bauman, Representative for Kentucky State Legislature

Goal: Remove provisions in bill that imprison and endanger homeless populations.

A proposed law known as “Safer Kentucky” will in all likelihood make some of the state’s most vulnerable and impoverished citizens a whole lot less safe. Tucked within a broader bill concerning criminal justice are two troubling provisions that “criminalize homelessness” and “poverty,” according to fierce critics. Under one of the provisions, individuals who set up “unlawful encampments” on public property could be fined and jailed. More troubling still, another part of the bill authorizes property owners to use excessive and even deadly force against people suspected of “unlawful encampments” and other vaguely worded perceived offenses. The vagueness of the language in the bill could possibly be deployed against individuals who have simply overstayed a lease.

This bill is arguably the most extreme of a larger trend across the nation in which state legislatures are attempting to punish homeless populations, many of whom are in the grip of severe mental illness or addiction. A leading member of a nonprofit in Louisville—a city that has experienced a particular uptick in homelessness—had strong words of condemnation: “we have decided that as a society some people are not worthy of human respect and dignity, and we are able to treat them in completely inhumane ways.” Imprisoning and even killing our most at-risk communities is indeed the very embodiment of man’s inhumanity to man.

Sign the petition below to help put a stop to a dangerous step that could have ripple effects nationwide.


Dear Representative Bauman,

“The first duty of any civilized society is to protect its honest citizens from those that prey on their innocent fellow citizens.” These words were touted—along with proclamations of possessing a “deep sense of purpose and value” when the Safer Kentucky Act was announced by you. Does this purpose and protection really extend to putting a target on poverty-stricken, mentally distressed, and homeless Kentuckians? Are these human beings—who include domestic violence survivors, veterans, and children—the “predators” of which you so loftily speak?

Addressing the very real issues of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness has no place in a bill about criminal justice. Do you honestly believe that placing handcuffs and guns in that supposed helping hand is the answer? Do not let this anti-homeless, poverty-criminalizing crusade represent Kentucky values.

Strip this bill of its inhumanity immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kolkata

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