Homeless man chooses to be arrested to get out of the cold

Homeless man chooses to be arrested to get out of the cold
Updated: Jan. 19, 2021 at 6:52 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Inside the Vanderburgh County Jail, you can find 71-year-old John Keown. Unable to speak, John expressed his feelings with us on paper.

On Tuesday, John said he was feeling “Fine!” But early Sunday morning, John wasn’t feeling well. He says he went to the ER where doctors found nothing wrong with him, and he refused to leave.

Law enforcement gave him two choices; be arrested, or go home.

When asked where home is, Keown just shakes his head. John is homeless and chose to be arrested. He says it was either that or spend the night in the cold.

“Let’s put it this way, when you have your backs up against the wall, any option out there, while you’re experiencing homelessness, is a step up above being out on the streets and being out in the elements,” explained Aurora’s Executive Director Zac Heronemus.

Aurora is a non-profit that works with homeless people in the community. Heronemus says many people like Keown choose the route of jail in order to get off the streets. But it makes it that much harder to find a home once they get out.

To some, John may look like any other inmate at the jail. He says he is a good man and has no idea what his future holds but says he will turn to prayer.

Jason Emmerson at United Caring Shelters says there was no white flag the morning that Keown was arrested and that their night shelter was at maximum capacity.

Still, Emmerson believes they missed an opportunity to help someone in need.

Keown is currently facing a criminal trespassing charge with bond set at $500.