AFSCME: Not Just a Ferguson Problem – How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Original article in AFSCME Information Highway.

by afscme

Source: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), the Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), A New Way of Life Reentry Project, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), 2015

From the abstract:
A recent Department of Justice report found that courts and law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, are systematically and purposefully taking money from the pockets of poor people—disproportionately from black people—to put into court coffers. The context may be different in California, but many of the practices are chillingly similar. As a result, over four million Californians do not have valid driver’s licenses because they cannot afford to pay traffic fines and fees. These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, further impeding their ability to pay their debt. They harm credit ratings. They raise public safety concerns. Ultimately they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult, if not impossible to overcome. This report highlights the growing trend of license suspensions, how the problem happens, the impact on families and communities, and what can and should be done about it.
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