California assembly bill 312
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California Assembly Bill 312. Civil Rights for Homeless Persons. AB 312. “Homeless” Individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence I ndividuals who have a primary nighttime residence that is An operated shelter

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California Assembly Bill 312

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California Assembly Bill 312

Civil Rights for Homeless Persons

AB 312


  • Individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence

  • Individuals who have a primary nighttime residence that is

    • An operated shelter

    • A temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized

    • A place not designated for a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

      - US Department of Urban Housing and Development

AB 312

The New Hate Crime?

AB 312

What Is A Hate-Crime?

“Bias-motivated violent crime” typically targeting victims on the basis of their membership to a certain social group

Is violence against a homeless

person a hate-crime?

AB 312

How Many Americans Are Actually At Risk?

  • 1.6 million homeless in US

  • Out of 36 million Californians, 170,000 are homeless

  • In California, 18% of homeless are veterans

  • In California, 20-25% of homeless individuals suffer from mental illness

  • Approximately 30% identify as LGBT

AB 312

Is Violence Against The Homeless Really A Problem in the US?

  • 1999-2010

    • 1,184 bias-motivated assaults

    • 312 homeless lost their lives

    • Violence reported in 47 states

    • 75% of attackers under age 25

    • 88 % of perpetrators were male

AB 312

Hate/Assault Crimes 1999-2010

AB 312

Is Violence Against The Homeless Really A Problem in the California?

AB 312

Where Hate/Assault Crimes Occur 1999-2012

AB 312

This IS A Problem In California

  • Second-highest rate of violence against homeless people

  • 1999-2009

    • 213 bias-motivated assaults in 48 cities

    • 48 resulted in death

  • Victims reported being set on fire, stabbed, shot, raped & beaten with baseball bats and golf clubs

AB 312

Deaths From Bias-motivated Assaults


Deaths From Assaults Against A Homeless Person

  • 1999-2010

    • 111 people killed based on their race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation

    • 312 homeless individuals killed as a result of an assault

AB 312

Discussion Question:

Should an assault against a homeless person for being homeless be classified as a


AB 312

California Assembly Member

Bonnie Lowenthal Says HELL YES!

So, she wrote AB 312…

AB 312

Who’s Bonnie?

Democratic Assembly Member

54th District – Southern California (LA/Long Beach)

Master’s in Community and Clinical Psychology

AB 312

Bonnie also wrote the similar bill AB 2706 the year before…

Then Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 2706 stating that it is unclear whether or not these people are specifically targeted because they are homeless.

AB 312

What’s The Bill All About?

  • The Ralph Civil Rights Act prohibits violence or threats of violence based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, political opinion and position in a labor dispute

  • AB312 grants same civil protection for those with “status as a homeless person”

AB 312

Who Supported It?

  • United States Veterans Initiative

  • California Peace Officers’ Association

  • Consumer Attorneys of California

  • California National Organization of Women

  • California State Sheriffs Association

  • People Assisting The Homeless (PATH)

    … and many more

AB 312

Who Opposed It?

None opposed.

AB 312

What do you think

was the fate of the bill?

AB 312

What Happened?

  • Vetoed by Jerry Brown

  • August 5th, 2011

    “This bill [would create] new private and administrative enforcement remedies. It is undeniable that homeless people are vulnerable to victimization, but California already has very strong civil and criminal laws that provide sufficient protection.”

AB 312

Can An Amendment Really Make A Difference?

  • Florida (Highest rate)

    • May 11, 2010 – Governor Charlie Crist signed state crime legislation which added “homeless status”

    • Two years later….

AB 312

May 26, 2012 Miami, Florida

Cannibal Attack Against A Homeless Person


Ronald Poppo

Age 65

129 IQ

Some College


Rudy Eugene

Age 31

Arrested 8x for Assault

Mental Health Issues

AB 312


  • Protect civil rights of the homeless

  • Encourage victims to pursue perpetrators

  • Discourage violators from making assaults

  • Damages awarded to victims

  • Reduce violence against the homeless


  • Most homeless victims can not pay for a private attorney

  • The homeless are already protected under current legislation for assault

  • Opens the door to add any marginalized group to the Ralph Act

AB 312

Discussion Question:

Would such legislation have a more significant impact on violent crime against the homeless or administrative costs for law enforcement?

Thanks Y’all.


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