The Criminalization of Homelessness —
Mondays 3:30-5:30 pm
Office, Office Hours, and Faculty Assistant
All students enrolled in the seminar will be required to:
The grade for the seminar will be based on the paper and class participation (including the presentation). The practice exericse is ungraded but required. Class participation will count for 20% of the final grade. The final grade may be lowered if you miss more than 3 classes, or if you miss class on the day when you are scheduled to do your in-class presentation.
- Read the assigned materials and take part in the class discussion.
- Write a seminar paper of 25-35 pages on a topic approved by me, and given an in-class presentation on it.
- Do any one of the following practice-related exercises:
- Participate in the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s Point-in-Time Count of the number of individuals living on the streets in Miami-Dade County.
- Training (mandatory for anyone volunteering): Jan. 18, 2019 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at Camillus House, 1603 NW 7th Avenue (Auditorium)
- PIT Count: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, beginning at 10:00 pm (ends no later than 4:00 am Friday, Jan. 25, 2019)
There will be more information on this option in the first class on Monday. Note that all volunteers work in teams. If possible, students choosing this option will work together with a team from Miami Homes for All, but it is also possible that students who choose this option will work a team assigned by the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.
- Complete a Field Information Card (FIC) / Monitoring Exercise. The exercise involves entering data from City of Miami Police Field Information Cards into the Pottinger compliance database, and making judgments about compliance with the Consent Decree.
- When: Second half of the semester. Details will be available later. The exercise will take several hours in total; it can be done on your own, at a time of your choosing, and need not be done all at once.
- Assist lawyers who are give legal advice to individuals experiencing homelessness.
- When: Several opportunities will be available at different times during the semester. This option will involve going to a homeless shelter one time for several hours.
This seminar will explore the criminalization of homelessness—policies in which local governments use systematic arrests of homeless people for relatively minor misdemeanors to drive them out of core urban areas. The seminar will have three major aims. The first is to examine the large-scale economic and social trends in inequality that contribute to homelessness, and the range of policy responses aimed at preventing or alleviating it. The second is to explore the contributions that civil rights litigation can make to supporting constructive policy responses, as well as the limits of litigation as an agent of social change. The third is to gain a practical lawyering sense of how social impact litigation is conducted, using as a case study the current consent decree in Pottinger v. City of Miami. That consent decree limits the power of the police to arrest homeless people for certain misdemeanor offenses they cannot avoid committing while homeless. Paper topics will be chosen by the students, but must be approved by the professor.
There is no book to buy, but you will need the Course Readings and the Pottinger/Statutory Supplement. The first installment of each can be found on this page. In addition, they will be made available at the Copy Center starting 1/11/19 in the morning.
Class Meeting Assignments
Class 1 (Monday, January 14, 2019): Introduction
This class introduces some basic background on homelessness, the Pottinger case and consent decree, and the general themes of the seminar.
Back to the Course Web Page