Checking the Facts on Criminalization

Credibility Analysis: “Criminalization of Homelessness Persists, Report Finds”

Fig. 1 Have police harassed you? Digital image. No Safe Place. National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Jordan Frias, author of the SCN article “Criminalization of Homelessness Persists, Report Finds,” argues that “despite efforts to help homeless populations get back on their feet, a new report finds that the criminalization of homelessness is on the rise.” The report that Frias is referring to is the “Housing Not Handcuffs” report put out by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, one of the nation’s leading homeless legal advocates. This report finds, that in a twenty-year period, there has been a sharp increase in the number of laws and ordinances that specifically target the homeless population. These include homeless specific behaviors such as camping in public, sleeping in public, loitering, sleeping in vehicles and panhandling. The article insists that despite the best efforts of advocacy groups to come up with solutions, criminalization has increased at alarming rates. The author acknowledges that it is difficult for cities to come up with solutions to homelessness; however, also points out the need for cities to come up with a plan to lower eviction rates. Furthermore, Frias argues that because of the high rates of criminalization there needs to be more effective training for law enforcement around how the homeless population should be treated.

Website Concerns

One of the first things you notice when opening this site and looking at the URL, is that SCN stands for Spare Change News. The name alone calls for more research to determine if this site can be trusted. However, upon digging deeper it is discovered that the author Jordon Frias is not only a contributor for Spare Change News, but is also an editorial assistant for The Boston Herald. In addition, most of the facts of the article come from the report put out by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), a respected authority on homeless legal issues. When first looking at this article you immediately expect it to be skewed in favor of the homeless population as the name of the website is Spare Change News; however, despite the name the author and the facts both check out as credible sources of information.

Checking the Facts

To begin with it is immediately apparent that many of the facts come directly from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty report “Housing Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities ,” which lends to the credibility of the article. For example, Frias states “laws prohibiting camping, sleeping and even sitting and laying down in public places have increased.” The “Housing Not Handcuffs” report states “bans of camping city-wide have increased by 69%, … bans on sleeping in public city-wide have increased by 31, [and] … bans on sitting and lying down in public have increased by 52%.” The ease in which the statistics are located in the “Housing Not Handcuffs” report, increases the credibility of the article.

Author Credibility

In addition, the author of the article Jordan Frias is a highly respected journalist, which also adds to the credibility of the article. Mr. Frias not only contributes to Spare Change News, but is also an editorial assistant for The Boston Herald. To add to the authors credibility, per the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist, Mr. Frias is currently serving as the President of their Executive Board. All of these things combined lend to the credibility and journalistic integrity of the author.

The combination of easily verifiable facts combined with a veteran journalist makes this article a credible source of information. The only draw back of the entire article was the name of the website, and its admittedly vested interest in helping the homeless population. However, since the author is not part of the Spare Change News staff and only a contributor he is less likely to hold that bias personally. Furthermore, Frias is a respected journalist in his field and currently sits on the board of the Society of Professional Journalist. The author’s credibility combined with the easily verifiable research makes this article a credible source of news.

Works Cited

“About Us.” Society of Professional Journalists — New England. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.

Bauman, Trisita, Janet Hostetler, Janelle Fernandez, Eric Tars, Michael Santos, Jennifer Brewer, Elizabeth Dennis, Ruth El, and Maria Foscarinis. “Housing Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities”. Rep. National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

Frias, Jordan . “Criminalization of Homelessness Persists, Report Finds.” Spare Change News. N.p., 19 Dec. 16. Web. 4 Mar. 17.

Have police harassed you? Digital image. No Safe Place. National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

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