Author Topic: Jacksonville wants to rein in panhandling  (Read 414 times)


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Jacksonville wants to rein in panhandling
« on: September 24, 2022, 11:16:55 PM »

....District 2 Councilman Al Ferraro held a public meeting in May to discuss what options the city had to crack down on panhandling. The consensus from experts, generally, was that constitutional protections made it nearly impossible to do without drawing the ire of the courts....

...Instead, the ordinance looks to work around past court issues by banning unlawful loitering on roadways and “physical interaction between a pedestrian and occupant of a motor vehicle.”....

Wonder if Ferraro is aware that Jacksonville set the national precedent re: vagrancy laws.  In 1972, the US Supreme Court threw out such laws in every municipality in the nation over our City's case.  The Court ruled that such laws were vague and left way too much discretion with the enforcers.  Here is the Wikipedia article on the case:

"Loitering," to me, is a twin to vagrancy, if not one and the same.  So good luck writing a law around that.  Maybe a better approach would be to try and define panhandling as a "business" and license and tax it.  Not sure that would pass muster in the courts, but that may be better than other approaches.  And, it would have to applied equally to nonprofits, fire fighters, etc. probably to pass muster.
Partial quote from Wikipedia referencing the original Jacksonville ordinance at issue:
Jacksonville's ordinance at the time of the defendants' arrests and conviction was the following:[2]

Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging, common gamblers, persons who use juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or pickpockets, traders in stolen property, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses, or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of their wives or minor children shall be deemed vagrants and, upon conviction in the Municipal Court shall be punished as provided for Class D offenses.

Class D offenses at the time of these arrests and convictions were punishable by 90 days' imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both.[2]