A Denver County judge ruled Friday that the city’s controversial urban camping ban is unconstitutional, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
In his ruling, Judge Johnny C. Barajas cited a decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down a camping ban in Boise, Idaho, last year. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review that ruling.
Barajas granted Jerry Burton’s motion to dismiss a ticket he received this year for violating Denver’s camping ban at a site commonly known as Jerr-E-ville.
The judge quoted 9th Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon’s ruling in his decision: “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”
Andy McNulty, Burton’s attorney, said Friday he hoped the ruling would prompt the Denver Police Department to “stop wasting resources on laws that are clearly unconstitutional and instead divert those resources to evidence-based solutions to homelessness.”
The City Attorney’s Office, however, indicated Denver will continue to defend the law. City officials have noted that the city’s shelters have open beds most nights, but the judge wrote that shelter curfews and other restrictions limit access for some people.