Saturday, September 12, 2015

Judge Withdraws Arrest Warrants in Ferguson

This is another sign of hope...of more on, read all or listen

Here are excerpts:

The issue with the Municipal Court in Ferguson was that it was being used to generate money for the city by charging people for all sorts of minor offenses, from driving with a broken headlight or letting the grass grow too long in the front yard. And when poor people couldn't or didn't pay the fines which were usually hundreds of dollars, the money they owed went up. And if they still didn't pay, a warrant was issued for their arrest.

Judge Donald McCullin, a retired St. Louis County Circuit Court judge who, in June, became the new municipal court judge in Ferguson said, "What we'd like to do is alleviate the fear of people coming to court because some people fear coming to court because they fear they're going to be arrested and also to give people a fresh start....We have withdrawn close to 10,000 warrants."

That means people who haven't paid up past fines are not at risk - at least for now - of being arrested and taken to jail. But they still need to come to court and ask that their fines be lowered and pay them or ask for community service instead or to prove that they have no money and that the fines should be dismissed.

Thomas Harvey is an attorney at ArchCity Defenders, which represents the poor and homeless. He's filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson over these warrants. He praises what the court did yesterday but says it doesn't go far enough. more on, read all or listen

see more signs of hope, a previous post

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