WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is opposing a law in Idaho's biggest city that makes it a crime for homeless people to sleep in public places.

The department says the Boise ordinance unconstitutionally punishes people for being homeless. At issue is a federal lawsuit on behalf of homeless people convicted of violating the local law. The department has filed a statement supporting the lawsuit.

The head of the department's civil rights division says many homeless people can't find a place to sleep indoors because Boise's shelters are over capacity or inaccessible to people with disabilities. Vanita Gupta says prosecuting individuals who have no place to go violates their constitutional rights.