Public Housing Residents Sue Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CN) – The City of Annapolis unconstitutionally prohibits people from entering public property if they were arrested or simply stopped by police on or “near” public housing, a dozen people claim in Anne Arundel County Court. They say that under the city policy, people found “near” public housing can be barred from entering it for life, even if they are not accused of a crime, or are accused and acquitted.

     The residents of public housing say the city prevents them from visiting relatives and friends, keeps parents away from their children and grandparents away from their grandchildren.
The complaint states: Under the policy, anyone who is arrested or stopped by the Annapolis Police Department on or ‘near’ HACA [Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis] property, or otherwise ‘found (by HACA) to be detrimental to the overall quality of life for public housing residents’ can be banned from entering HACA property under any circumstances for at least three years, and in some cases, for the rest of his or her life.
“HACA bans individuals for three years to life even if they are never convicted – nor sometimes even prosecuted – for a crime. Indeed, HACA bans individuals for three years to life even if they are acquitted of criminal charges after a trial.
“HACA maintains a list of individuals who have been banned under the Banning Policy (the ‘Banned List’), but the methods by which a person can seek to be removed from the Banned List are not clearly defined in the policy, are not clearly communicated to individuals on the Banned List, and are inconsistently applied by Defendants.
“The Banning Policy provides that an individual who wishes to be removed from the Banned List ‘may apply in writing to the Director of Community Safety,’ but it does not state what must be in the written request.
“The Banning Policy provides that the Director of Community Safety ‘will review (an individual’s) record of abiding by the list,’ but it does not provide criteria by which a request for removal will be evaluated, nor does it tell individuals seeking removal from the Banned List whether or within what time period they will receive a response from the Director of Community Safety.
“Under the Banning Policy, there is no mechanism for review of or appeal from the Director of Community Safety’s decision.
“Individuals who have been banned cannot be on or “near” HACA property for any reason, even for limited purposes such as seeing or picking up their children or visiting ill family members. The Banning Policy provides that any resident who is ‘known to associate with a banned individual,’ even if the banned individual is a family member and invited by the resident, will receive a letter from the Director of Community Safety, notifying the resident that the banned individual has been banned. The Banning Policy does not describe how it is determined that a resident is ‘known to associate’ with a banned individual.”
The 55-page complaint was filed by Debra Jeon with the ACLU, and seeks an injunction and monetary damages.

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