Saturday, April 08, 2006

First law in the nation
to protect homeless people

At a homeless shelter in Portland, Maine, Gov. John Baldacci put his signature on legislation he said makes Maine a leader in protecting the homeless.

The measure, said to be the first law of its kind in the country, allows judges to add more incarceration time for attacks on homeless people.

"We in Maine need to make sure that all of Maine's citizens who are homeless are not living in fear on the streets," Baldacci said. "I am signing this legislation and once again putting Maine on the map as a leader."

Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless called the legislation "an important and symbolic statement." A report by the organization shows that assaults targeting the homeless have risen dramatically since 2002 across the country. In 2005, 73 homeless people were assaulted and 13 died, the report said.

Similar efforts are pending in Massachusetts and Florida. A comparable bill in Maryland recently was defeated by a single vote. See previous posts here and here.

Read the Boston Globe story here and the Los Angeles Times story here.


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