Panhandlers who behave aggressively could be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail under an ordinance adopted by a divided Atlanta City Council.
Council members voted 9-5 Monday to amend the city ordinance governing panhandling by stepping up the maximum penalty for aggressive panhandling from the current 30 days.
“The sentence should act as a deterrent,” said Councilman Michael Julian Bond, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee and the ordinance’s sponsor.
The city’s elected leaders have been grappling with panhandling for years, seeking to balance fears that widespread panhandling in the downtown area was hurting the convention and tourism businesses with concerns that criminalizing the activity was victimizing the homeless.
On Monday, Bond cited statistics showing that almost 400 arrests in the city last year for panhandling-related offenses involved just 78 suspects…
Read more: Atlanta Business Chronicle