Statement from Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban on sleeping outdoors

Share this:

The statement below is by Commissioner Director, Louis Cappelli Jr., regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban on sleeping outdoors in the case City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson.


“The Supreme Court’s decision regarding Oregon’s homelessness case is a blatant attack on our society’s most vulnerable group. The court’s 6-3 decision upholds Oregon’s draconian law banning homeless people from sleeping in outdoor public spaces, even when there are no shelter beds available to them. As an elected representative, as a public servant, as a father, and as a human being, I’m appalled.


In the State of New Jersey, we are no stranger to the plight of homelessness. The crisis continues to reach worse and worse heights, and Camden County is doing all we can to provide support, necessities, outreach, and opportunities to our poorer residents.  Nevertheless, to see our nation’s highest and seemingly most honorable court decide such a crushing blow to our effort makes this decision difficult to process.


The decision, which will likely cause a domino effect in the surrounding western region, will increase the hardship and struggle of people who already have very little. In short, this will create a race to the bottom for many communities. Falling asleep on a public park bench with nowhere else to go will now be punishable by obviously unfeasible fines, or prison time, until they are put back out onto the street worse-off than before.


Both as Americans and as human beings we must decide what sort of society we want to be. When we see the court’s decision to put innocent people in jail, we need to realize it is the true antithesis of American values to give care to the poor and huddled masses, and to wage war on poverty, not the unsheltered. No matter the majority’s oppressive decision, we will continue the nationwide call to provide food, shelter, and support to our fellow citizens.