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As people across our communities are engaging in dialogue about police practices, it is important to note that injustice permeates our system in other ways. This interesting article from The Hill highlights the inappropriate reliance of certain jurisdictions in fines and fees to raise revenue. This approach, coupled with biased and selective enforcement, tends to overburden poor people and creates greater injustice. Ferguson, Missouri, a jurisdiction that gave rise to national outrage when a black man, Michael Brown, was shot by a police officer, presents an example of this kind of approach to raising revenue, which tends to overburden the most vulnerable in our communities. In 2012, 13% of Ferguson’s municipal budget was funded by fines and fees.  By 2015, that amount had increased to 23%. This reliance on fines and fees creates an incentive to over enforce minor infractions, which, if coupled with uneven enforcement, unjustly burdens the poor and increases tensions in our communities.  Funding public services through fines and fees serves only to further a sense of frustration in our communities by overburdening the most vulnerable.
How fines and fees perpetuate injustice