Yesterday, we learned from the local daily that panhandling arrests were up in downtown Asheville. The day before, City Councilman Jan Davis, who has a shop downtown, let the cat out of the bag. Although people experiencing aggressive panhandling and transient behavior (from the perpetration side) have been raising more awareness with intensified outreach to passersby in this post-recession era of low unemployment and thriving economic indicators; Davis said the police are really responsive. He also commented on the “what am I supposed to do with this?” sense that comes over folks when presented with statistically insignificant vicissitudes in crime stats.

What is more confusing, though, is that the police department is fining panhandlers and putting them in jail. Isn’t that something like asking a murderer to earn his freedom by turning over more bodies? At least the criminal justice system can put the money to use.