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CLICK HERE to go to recent posts, nearly 300 pages of news and comments filed during the first nine months of 2013 and during the critical election year of 2012.

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As detailed here on The TerryReport previously, the problems of Ferguson, Missouri and surrounding areas stem from a system of fines and more fine imposed on citizens. Ferguson issued 30,000 arrest warrants in 2013 in a town of 20,000. In addition, the county, St. Louis county, is a patchwork of small towns, all of them stopping motorists, imposing fines, requiring them to pay more fines when they cant pay the first. Thus, a system is in place so that a huge number of citizens, perhaps a majority in some areas, are constantly facing potential arrest. Here is a clip from a recent story in the Washington Post:

Some of the towns in St. Louis County can derive 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from the petty fines and fees collected by their municipal courts. A majority of these fines are for traffic offenses, but they can also include fines for fare-hopping on MetroLink (St. Louiss light rail system), loud music and other noise ordinance violations, zoning violations for uncut grass or unkempt property, violations of occupancy permit restrictions, trespassing, wearing saggy pants, business license violations and vague infractions such as disturbing the peace or affray that give police officers a great deal of discretion to look for other violations.  In a white paper released last month (PDF), the ArchCity Defenders found a large group of people outside the courthouse in Bel-Ridge who had been fined for not subscribing to the towns only approved garbage collection service. They hadnt been fined for having trash on their property, only for not paying for the only legal method the town had designated for disposing of trash.

As the story in the Post makes clear, many of the area residents dont show up in court to pay fines when they are given a traffic ticket, because they dont have the money to pay the fine. They would not, however, be jailed for failing to pay the fine, but they will be jailed for failing to show. Most people, lacking lawyers, dont understand the system and find themselves in deeper and deeper trouble, which fuels massive resentment against the police and the courts.

In the Washington Post:

How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty

EDITORIAL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES ON THIS SAME SUBJECT

These comments and reports posted 9.7.14 by Doug Terry

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to go to recent posts, nearly 300 pages of news and comments filed during the first nine months of 2013 and during the critical election year of 2012.

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