A woman’s stabbing of two homeless men in Portland resulted in a relatively short two and one-half year prison term for her in a plea bargain that illustrates why prosecuting crimes against the homeless are especially challenging, reports The Oregonian. All of the witnesses and the victims had criminal histories and at least one was wanted by police, which may have made them unwilling to cooperate and less credible on the witness stand.
“They just don’t have fixed addresses, they don’t have phone contacts and they’re often leery of law enforcement,” said prosecutor Brian Davidson. “These are very important cases that we want to prosecute. It’s very frustrating as a prosecutor.” A recent report from the National Coalition for the Homeless found that reported attacks against the homeless have risen over the previous decade, just as more people have been pushed to the streets due to rough economic times. The study documented 244 killings of the homeless in the U.S. in the past 10 years.