Race and revenue

In light of the recent egregious examples of rigged grand juries, we want to revisit Walter Olson’s perceptive post dated 21 August 2014 on the “culture of petty fines” in places like Ferguson, Missouri. Here is an excerpt:

Race is one reason for constant police hassle in towns like Ferguson. Revenue is another. In a Cato post …, I note that court fees are the second biggest source of revenue for the small city, and that the Ferguson municipal court last year issued three arrest warrants and presided over 1.5 cases per household. As a result, many residents of the town “wind up interacting constantly with law enforcement because of a culture of petty fines” — enough to make for tense relations between the community and the police even aside from the racial divide …

In other words, policemen and judges in many cities are exploiting poor people to finance the budgets of local governments. (Recall that Michael Brown was initially hassled by Officer Darren Wilson for jaywalking, while Eric Garner was suspected of selling “loosies” or untaxed cigarettes.) These forms of petty police harassment need to stop. Leave us alone already!

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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1 Response to Race and revenue

  1. Jeeves says:

    Yes! Leave us alone. As The Professor would say they are just “glorified tax collectors”

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