Over the last five years, San Francisco’s Presiding Judge John Stewart and his colleagues have dismissed over 66,000 arrest warrants for quality-of-life crimes, such as sleeping on the sidewalk.

His logic? People living in poverty do not deserve to be put in jail just because they’re too poor to pay a fine.

Typically when an offender is cited for a violation, they are expected to pay $200 in fines or more. However, since most of the offenders are homeless, they usually fail to show in court which can be punishable by up to five nights in prison. Instead of approving the arrest warrants for failure to show up in court, Judge Stewart and his colleagues have dismissed thousands.

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San Francisco judges are reportedly being encouraged to cite treatment and rehabilitation options rather than fines, though court officials have been receiving criticism for dismissing the crimes in the first place.

According to the San Francisco Gate, Martin Halloran, head of the police union, told Chronicle columnists that the court was “sending a message that there is no accountability for what you have done, and the laws on the books can be violated with no repercussions. I don’t think it’s what the public wants.”

Judge Stewart, however, told SF Gate that though the people have a right to be upset, he and his colleagues do not plan on enforcing punishment against the homeless population, saying “it’s the right thing to do.”

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