Getting through a cruel winter.

@topffer (30691)
France
December 4, 2017 9:48am CST
The winter came hastily this year in France. It is freezing every night in my area, which is very rare. Like every year, a free phone number has been given to people to report homeless people sleeping in the streets. A night shelter is offered to any of them, but many do not want to go there invoking the risk of fights and thefts. The best way to spend a warm and secure winter for a homeless person ? It might seem weird, but it is jail. Last week a 35 years old man went to a gendarmerie to accuse himself of a murder in Toulouse. If you ask me why a gendarmerie and not a police station, I will tell you that it is probably because the gendarmerie and the police do not follow (by law) the same rules during the 24 or 48h of the custody detention : a gendarme has to feed an accused person, he has to respect a maximum number of 4 hours for questioning, to let the person sleep... Shortly said, you are better treated by the gendarmerie than by the police, and homeless people know that very well. However, in this case, despite of their efforts, the gendarmes did not found the dead body. This homeless had accused himself not of a real crime, but of a completely imaginary murder that he invented. That’s not a good way to spend winter in jail, during the investigation... Fail ! When I was studying law I remember to have seen a homeless throwing stones to the showcase of a bank not far from my faculty and waiting for the police to arrest him. Intriguing. At the time, I had to follow some court hearings, and he was there at the next obvious offences hearing. The president heard the case, asked him why he threw these stones, and he responded : «I was drunk...». - Alright, you will have 1 month to sober. «I protest, M. President, you are too lenient : I am a recidivist !» The President had a look at the records. - Wow, you already threw a stone to this bank last year... and the year before... and the year before ! «I told you : I am a re-ci-di-vist !» - Why this bank ? You have a specific grievance against it ? «Oh, no, they call as soon as they see me coming with a stone, and I never wait long for the police.» - I see : you want to spend winter in jail ? «Yes, or I would have to throw another stone in a month.» - I hear you : 3 months ! Are you satisfied ? «Thank you, M. President !»
12 people like this
10 responses
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
4 Dec
That is very funny - and very smart of the homeless man. How is the gendarmerie different from the police?
2 people like this
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
5 Dec
@topffer Thank you for that information. If ever I'm pursued by a man in uniform ..... I'll slow down so he can catch me!. Oh sorry, that's the wrong answer isn't it? But I'll stop just in case he feels the need to shoot.
3 people like this
@topffer (30691)
• France
5 Dec
@JudyEv I have never had to run and I have never been in detention, but I am pleased to share what I learned in colleges.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
5 Dec
@topffer If it is a really handsome guy in uniform I might want him to catch me!
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (122342)
• Switzerland
4 Dec
This shows that you have better jails in France than in Italy, jails are freezing cold in Italy. The homeless there faint to have a heart attack, people call an ambulance and they usually spend a couple of days in the hospital, then they start over again. My brother told me about this practice when he was a young doctor and spent the nights at the ER.
2 people like this
@topffer (30691)
• France
4 Dec
They are overpopulated and a few old ones are far to be comfortable. Homeless people also used to go often to the ER, but now that everything is recorded by computers, and available by any hospital, it is a lot more difficult for them to have a bed for the night, especially if they have already survived to 30 fake heart attacks.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (122342)
• Switzerland
4 Dec
@topffer The Italian hospitals are such a mess, they stay in a bed in a corridor, together all the others who really had a problem, waiting and hoping for a real bedroom with bath and shower.
2 people like this
@topffer (30691)
• France
4 Dec
@LadyDuck They are lucky for the moment. Soon or later it will be like here : the ER are keeping several years of records, and it is a national database...
2 people like this
• United States
8 Dec
@topffer Having worked in mental health, I've seen people who are homeless do things to get a 72 hour hold for mental issues before to get time out of the cold. Some have issues and actually get the help that way but it is a problem for the homeless to find safe places during the winter months.
2 people like this
@topffer (30691)
• France
9 Dec
People are not sent to mental asylums easily in France : or they have to sign and agree to enter, or it needs the signatures of 2 doctors and of somebody representing the state. The reason is that during the 19th C some people have been sent to asylums abusively by their families. A homeless brought drunk several times by the police to the ER can be offered to do a withdrawal cure that lasts several weeks, but they rarely accept. In the past some homeless were going to the ER to have a bed in a hospital for the night. Now that all hospitals are filling and checking the same computer database, it is a lot more difficult for a simulator to be admitted.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Dec
@topffer It isn't easy to get long term admission but the 72 hours is for evaluating the person. It has also been known that people try and abuse it however here before being admitted they have to be evaluated by a medical Dr., Mental professional and a police check is done if the person is new. They are checked for addiction through blood tests etc. prior to admission.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
9 Dec
@Berniezeitler I have heard many stories from students who managed to be exempted or reformed of military service by simulating a mental illness. Some of them had chosen funny methods (one was driving an imaginary bike, another one was saying that he was a general and was giving orders to his officers) but as they were obvious simulators, they spent several months in military jails and hospitals before being kicked out.
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (18707)
• United States
8 Dec
Here I've heard some of the homeless shelters aren't all that safe. Probably safer in jail.
2 people like this
@topffer (30691)
• France
8 Dec
They are not according to the homeless, but I do not think a lot of them are doing like the men in this discussion to spend the cold months in jail.
1 person likes this
@much2say (35424)
• United States
4 Dec
I have heard stories like that here . . . apparently the homeless do make attempts to go to jail . . . at least they get a roof over their head and are taken care of to some degree - and they know it. Jailhouses are already packed (as are homeless shelters unfortunately) - I don't know what happens once they get there, but because homelessness is a huge issue here, I am assuming there are too many attempts and many are turned away. Southern CA doesn't have extreme winter weather, at least around here, so I suppose it is somewhat tolerable to be outdoors. I will tell you I see people blatantly sleeping on the sidewalks with their blankets next to business buildings . . . the ones with tents or can live out of their cars are the more "fortunate" ones.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
4 Dec
We have also people sleeping on the sidewalks, even in the chic neighborhoods in Paris, despite of a law guarantying a home to any person asking for it. At least for French people. There is not enough flats or hotel rooms for foreigners, and only the families or women with children are given a home actually. But there are still people not wanting to live under a roof. It seems weird but they exist. Accepting a roof would force them to be followed by social workers and to look for a job. Also, I remember that I found once in the garden of a museum where I was working a couple sleeping under a tree in sleeping bags. I asked them why they were not asking for a flat and the woman told me : "The city gave one to us, but my husband cannot sleep if he does not see the sky." I suppose that after a few years outdoors they are more or less lost for the society.
1 person likes this
@much2say (35424)
• United States
4 Dec
@topffer There is a law that guarantees any person a home there? No such law here, otherwise all would be taking advantage of that one. There are those who do take too much of an advantage of the system - and that doesn't help the ones that are truly in need. I know what you mean . . . to accept will mean they will have to follow up with some responsible actions - really it is for their benefit - but they will not take it. I know folks who have said that they would receive more through welfare and receiving food stamps than getting a minimum wage two-bit job . . . why work if you can receive more without working, is the mentality. Interesting that a man needs to see the sky to sleep! The people I see sleeping/living on the sidewalks . . . it is often the same people if it's a place I go regularly . . . I wonder if they eventually just get numb to the elements - it's so sad.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
4 Dec
@much2say The right to have a home has been inscribed in our constitution in 1946. Since we have had several laws to organize that, the last ones in 2014. It is considered like "a duty of solidarity for the nation" to offer a roof to everyone. We have a good welfare system, and a homeless receives about $500/month to live (or, at least, they receive it if they ask for it, but they often see social workers in the streets offering them to fill the papers needed). They have also free healthcare. It is difficult to decide somebody happy like that to take a flat and to work. I do not think they are abusing the system, they are just not adapted to the system. Only a few accept to re-integrate the society and to have again a normal life.
1 person likes this
• Pamplona, Spain
8 Dec
Has made me smile as you usually do with your stories. Thank you my prince is one of them that made good cents He is a very kind Judge and very wise and I hope the man gets plenty of food and warmth as its very cold and gelid here too very much so.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
8 Dec
It happened more than 35 years ago, and I do not remember exactly the words, but it really ended with "Thank you, M. President !" In these obvious offences hearings, the trial is made at light speed : the case is exposed by the state attorney who asks for a sentence in the name of the state (that the judges are following most of the time, but not always. They are free to give less or more than asked), followed by the arguments of an assigned counsel who was not knowing the case 1 hour before the hearing and usually only asks for the clemency of the court. It is very rare to have something like this happening. Judges at these hearings are seeing so much misery... and they are not insensible.
1 person likes this
• Pamplona, Spain
8 Dec
@topffer No matter its a great story like the tip given and he said thank you my Prince because he only gave him ten cents. I imagine as in any other country there is much hardship going on. In Navarra there is a lot of hardship too.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
8 Dec
@lovinangelsinstead21 I was speaking of the trial of this homeless that I do not remember well. The "Thank you my Prince" anecdote, I remember it very well. Criminal courts and jails are places where you see a lot of misery and hardship. Not all, but many petty criminals are committing thefts more by necessity than by vice.
1 person likes this
@YrNemo (8678)
5 Dec
This situation (of wanting to be in a comfortable jail) seems to happen often in quite a few countries from what I read in the newspapers, watching current affairs, etc.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
5 Dec
We have still some 19th C jails which are far to be comfortable, but I suppose that for a homeless person it is better than to stay outdoors when it is freezing. At the time, I found this attitude weird, but when I heard more about shelters for homeless, I thought that a jail was probably better to spend winter. And shelters are usually only opened during the night.
1 person likes this
@YrNemo (8678)
5 Dec
@topffer Homeless people do enjoy in a sense, freedom during daytime especially when the weather is nice. Well, one has to do what one has to do to survive I guess.
1 person likes this
@kepweng (6390)
11 Dec
Do you Already tried to sleep Outside your home in winter?
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
11 Dec
Outside yes, outdoors no.
@Orson_Kart (4121)
• United Kingdom
5 Dec
Recidivist is a new word to me. Thank you. There is something similar going around social media over here, comparing old peoples homes with jails. Old people die through lack of care or the cold, whereas people in jail are well looked after.
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
5 Dec
Honestly, in France it depends of the jails. Some are very old, and probably not very warm during winter, but for a homeless it is still better than to spend the days outdoors when it freezes. We have a small check distributed by the state to poor people to help them to heat (it is possible to pay electricity, fuel, coal, etc with it), but it is very small, something like 100 euros for an old person living alone, and indeed not enough.
• United States
5 Dec
I don't think anyone in Texas would try to go to jail on purpose, but it may be better in France. It's really sad there are so many homeless people in the world. I wonder what a world of equality would look like?
1 person likes this
@topffer (30691)
• France
5 Dec
Winters are more cold in France than in Texas, and the custody system is not the same. The homeless we have in our streets are most of the time undocumented foreigners. The ones from France and the EU have chosen this life, as we have a right to have a home inscribed in our constitution, and any person asking for it is given a roof (it can take a few months for somebody alone, but if it is a family with children, a hotel will be immediately paid for them). But in this case, they are followed by social workers and have to find a job...
1 person likes this