An Increase in Criminalized Loitering Laws Leading to Increased Shootings of People with Disabilities

Bennie Edwards, a 60-year-old homeless Black man in Oklahoma City, was killed by the police on Friday night. He was reported as creating a disturbance in-front of a store and police were called. After confronting Bennie, police fatally shot him. More of this story here.

According to a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) there has been an increase in the criminalization of homelessness over the past 10 years in U.S. cities. Additionally, many homeless individuals struggle with mental health. In addition, police officers are typically not well-trained in dealing with de-escalation techniques. As a result, people with mental health issues are 16 times more likely to be killed by police during an encounter. With the rise of laws targeting homelessness, there hasn’t been adequate reform on police training. Police are still ill-equipped to deal with mental health, yet legislation is forcing more police encounters. This is indirectly killing people within the disability community.


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Mental Health Courts

Mental health courts (MHCs) are specialized programs designed to address the legal issues and treatment needs of individuals with mental health disabilities and substance use

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