Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“I’m proud to go to jail for housing the homeless”






A defiant Dan de Vaul stretched out his arms and let deputies place handcuffs on him before being led out of the courtroom.


A Central California rancher who houses homeless people on his property has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for safety violations.

Dan de Vaul, 66, was offered probation, but chose jail instead.

The terms of probation, which would bar him from breaking any laws, would prevent him from sheltering about 30 people who reside at his ranch -- known as Sunny Acres -- and participate in a sober living recovery program, de Vaul said.

"I'm proud to go to jail for housing the homeless," de Vaul said before the hearing.

A jury convicted him of two misdemeanors for violating building and safety codes. Building inspectors said a stucco barn he converted to temporary housing on the 72-acre ranch did not meet current fire codes. He also was cited for failing to remove material and vehicles from his property.

De Vaul's ranch provides services and sober living for the large population of homeless residents of San Luis Obispo County who can't go into shelters, said his attorney, Jeffrey Stulberg.

"Dan has filled that gap by providing free counseling services, free dentist visits, mainstreaming some of these folks back into society with jobs and apartments," he said.

Read the Los Angeles Times report here.

Update: Dan de Vaul has been released from jail. One of the jurors who convicted him paid a $500 bail bond. Defense attorney Jeffrey Stulberg said the juror, Mary Partin of Atascadero, felt pressured to vote guilty even though she believed de Vaul was innocent.

Update #2: Read a volunteer's explanation of how and why Sunny Acres works here.

Update #3: SLO Homeless (thoughtful, as always) thinks both sides are in the right, but both sides are also all in the wrong.

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