ACLU: City vagrancy proposal discriminates against homeless

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia says a city’s proposed vagrancy ordinance is unconstitutional and discriminates against people for being homeless.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the local ACLU sent a letter to St. Albans officials Friday asking city council members to reconsider before voting on the ordinance during the next regular council meeting Nov. 5. ACLU of West Virginia Legal Director Loree Stark says the proposal is too vaguely written and doesn’t define what sort of behavior is permitted or prohibited, leaving the discretion up to individual officers.
The ordinance would allow St. Albans police to charge vagrancy against anyone who loiters or sleeps around streets and public places of assembly.
According to the minutes from the Oct. 14 council meeting, Mayor Scott James said vagrancy is different from homelessness because it’s a lifestyle choice.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.