City Councilman: Keep putting pandhandlers in jail

via We are all homeless

Panhandling already is illegal in Dallas, but that is not enough for some members of City Council.

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City Council members considered tougher restrictions on panhandling Monday.

Rich Callahan, who sits on the council’s quality of life committee, says he is fed up with panhandlers, who he has witnessed evading police by hightailing it under highway bridges “to the 7-Eleven or a hideout somewhere.”

“They’re nonconformists,” he told the panel, adding that the city provides “three hots and a cot” to the homeless but that panhandlers are rule-breakers, “nonconformists,” he reiterated.

Dallas County already does not have enough jail space, Callahan says. But he says Dallas Police should arrest and rearrest panhandlers and send them over and over again through a “processing center” until they finally leave town.

“I don’t care where they go,” he said.

Councilwoman Carolyn Davis said the city of Dallas ought to offer more compassion than that. She suggested offering more in the way of mental health treatment as a way of reducing the numbers of panhandlers.

Texas ranks 49th in spending on mental health care, and mentally ill people of low income have few if any options for care.

To get a first-hand perspective on this topic, try offering to buy a sign from a panhandler as part of Oak Cliff-based artist Willie Baronet’s We Are All Homeless project.

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  • Christmas, Cinco de Mayo, Arbor Day, whatever: jail panhandlers. Even ones with Santa Claus hats. And fine businesses that allow them to ply their “trade”. Like the Walgreen’s and the Sonic on Fort Worth Avenue across from the Dallas Housing Authority Homeless Depot. You know, the same DHA that told us that fears of increased panhandling, etc. were just figments of reactionary imaginations.

  • “Are there no prisons?”

    “Plenty of prisons…”

    “And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

    “Both very busy, sir…”

    “Those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

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