Former State Assemblyman, Mike Gatto Counts on Votes to Change the State’s Approach of Homelessness
Former State Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, recently proposed a ballot initiative that could possibly change the state’s approach to homelessness. Gatto’s initiative would be to treat certain existing crimes such as defecating on public transportation, public drug abuse, etc. as cries for help.
Unlike traditional approaches where the law is sought to criminalize homelessness, Gatto’s approach would have the courts assess the crime and determine if it is due to economic need, a drug-dependency, or mental-health issues. The court would then “sentence” the defendant to an appropriate treatment plan: connecting the defendant to existing shelters and safety-net programs like general welfare, or requiring that the defendant participate in drug rehabilitation and treatment, or placing the defendant in an appropriate mental-health hospital with access to free prescription drugs.
This proposed system would be to help recognize what the homeless people need as well as seek to return to the respect of law and order. Gatto’s bill would require every county with more than 100,000 people to set up a specialized court that can steer people to its proper services.
Gatto states, “It is not humane to leave people who need help on the streets. We the people must go to the ballot box on this issue, because governments everywhere have let us down, and have let down the people on the streets.”