WHY THE HOMELESS ARE DENIED PERSONHOOD UNDER THE LAW: TOWARD CONTEXTUALIZING THE REASONABLENESS STANDARD IN SEARCH AND SEIZURE JURISPRUDENCE

Author: 

Justin Stec

The homeless have questionable and variable access to legitimate private space. They live over time with little consistent unperturbed space to develop and manifest their inner identity in outward actions. They have no free space to experiment, make mistakes, or just “be” themselves, to learn or grow in a comfortable environment. Unlike the homed, the homeless lack liberty in this respect. Physically, the homeless do not have the option to exclude others because they lack the financial capital to barricade their private sphere in a legally recognized manner. As such, their ability to materially and psychologically function as “normal” is reduced and, in turn, their ability to portray “reasonableness” to a judge or third party is lessened. The law categorizes space in a way that augments this phenomenon, rather than disrupts it; law strips the homeless of precious autonomy. In particular, the context of homelessness is not enunciated nor enforced in search and seizure jurisprudence, yielding contextual and abstracted decisions that recapitulate current power schematics, regardless of the intention of lawmakers. View More