What to Know
- The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” is a reality for drivers in one New Jersey city
- In recent weeks, about 90 tickets have been given out to motorists in Newark caught giving money to panhandlers, therefore delaying traffic
- Panhandlers can also be fined for simply asking pedestrians for money; The ACLU is working to overturn these ordinances
The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” is a reality for drivers in one New Jersey city.
It might seem like a harmless gesture, but Newark drivers caught offering panhandlers cash risk getting ticketed.
In recent weeks, about 90 tickets have been given out to motorists in New Jersey’s largest city caught giving money to panhandlers, and therefore delaying traffic. Those ticketed face a $50 fine plus court costs, according to signage.
The directive is actually part of a multi-part approach to help those in need, which also includes a “Hope One” van to help the homeless, including by giving them free health checkups. Since January, 125 people have been referred to other services through this program, including drug rehab and mental health services.
However, mental health professionals wonder if the ban and fines on panhandling will prove effective.
Jose Dipini, of the Mental Health Association of Essex/Morris, said that some will find other ways to come across money if they cannot panhandle.
Still police see little alternative as one female was killed panhandling in traffic just a few weeks ago.
However, the law will not change things for some who are still inclined to help others.
“People need to eat,” Kendrick Villegas, a motorist from Belleville, said.
Another sympathetic motorist said he would also give panhandlers money.
The American Civil Liberties Union is working to overturn these ordinances, because not only can motorists now be fined for giving money, panhandlers can also be fined up to $500 for simply asking pedestrians for money.