Police profiling African Americans, and attempting to disguise their prejudice through “enforcement” of traffic or other minor offenses, often results in the eventual shooting of innocent people. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has recently signed legislation to help stop this practice.
Under Missouri’s former system, courts could endlessly fine people for their inability to pay minor traffic offenses. When the fines became too much for some people to pay, mainly poorer black people, the court could issue an arrest warrant. The court also could suspend a person’s driver’s license. It was a vicious cycle of fines and jail time over minor traffic offenses.
The new law is designed to eliminate that cycle. Courts now have to consider the person’s ability to pay the fine. There are caps on fines and court costs regarding minor traffic offenses, and people cannot be jailed or have their license suspended for failing to pay traffic fines.
The old system disproportionately targeted low-income black people. The new law “reflects the resolve of every day, hard-working Missourians from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, black and white, rural and urban, to bend the arc of history toward justice,” said Governor Nixon. The new law is a response to the incident involving Michael Brown, a young black man who was shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.
Here’s a relevant clip of Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver discussing the ridiculous money-making scheme of traffic violations.