AP NEWS

Montgomery repeals local law to jail panhandlers

December 18, 2019 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s capital city on Tuesday repealed a local law that would have jailed panhandlers.

The Montgomery City Council unanimously voted to repeal the unenforced ordinance that had drawn heavy criticism from homeless advocates, clergy and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s newly elected mayor, supported the repeal.

Eric Tars, legal director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, said the organization is happy city leaders decided to repeal the “patently unconstitutional” ordinance.

“Housing not handcuffs, is the way to end homelessness, rather than just push it out of public sight,” Tars said in a statement.

The city council approved the ordinance in July, but it was never enforced.

The measure would have required panhandlers to be jailed for two days for the first offense, unless the sentence was suspended by a judge. The jail time would have increased with each violation.