For more than 60 years, the sprawling Utah State Prison sat nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountain range in Draper, Utah. The prison was home to such notorious inmates as serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Gilmore, and serial pedophile and cult leader Warren Jeffs. Utah was the first state to reinstitute the death penalty after the Supreme Court’s moratorium ended in 1973, and the state has since executed 51 people. In 2015, the Utah legislature made the decision to relocate the prison to West Salt Lake City. In its place, Draper Mayor Troy Walker proposed to house something that, as it turns out, struck Draper citizens as far more distasteful than even the prison—a shelter for the homeless.
Food Not Bombs, a grassroots organization focused on food justice, are facing their second round of legal battles this month after their demonstration in Tampa, Florida, that led to the arrests of seven activists. Other organizations in Tampa have faced similar action or threats by the local authorities over their illegal behavior – feeding homeless people in a public place without a permit.
The politics surrounding treatment of homeless populations has long been an area of ethically problematic legislation. The latest conflict in this trend can be seen in Hawaii, where officials are considering legislation that will move the homeless away from tourist areas. The proposals will also criminalize “sitting, lying down, defecating and urinating on sidewalks in Waikiki and other public places.”