California Eyes Statewide Amnesty Plan For Paying Off Traffic Tickets
California Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing for an amnesty program for residents who can’t afford to pay off their traffic ticket debt, which often includes a range of court-funding fees. The costs are largely blamed for some 4.8 million driver’s license suspensions since 2006. Such reforms are being discussed at the municipal level, but this would be a landmark move by the nation’s most populated state.
The Associated Press is reporting that “… the push by the Democratic governor spotlights concern among lawmakers and court administrators that California’s justice system is profiting off minorities and low-income residents. It’s a civil rights issue that has prompted discussions between the Brown administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, according to the governor’s spokesman, Evan Westrup.”
The AP notes that “… advocates for the poor have likened California’s problem to the police and municipal court structure in Ferguson, Missouri, which was criticized by the Justice Department as a revenue-generating machine following last year’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer.”
The report also breaks down how the traffic fines have become a revenue maching: “Traffic fines have been skyrocketing in California and courts have grown reliant on fees as a result of budget cuts during the recession. Twenty years ago, the fine for running a red light was $103. Today, it costs as much as $490 as the state has established add-on fees to support everything from court construction to emergency medical air transportation. The cost can jump to over $800 once a person fails to pay or misses a traffic court appearance.”
Read the story here.