slateYesterday the Washington Post published an investigation of the municipal-fine system in St. Louis County, including Ferguson. According to Randy Balko, the journalist who wrote the piece: “If you were tasked with designing a regional system of government guaranteed to produce racial conflict, anger, and resentment, you’d be hard pressed to do better than St. Louis County.”

Anyone who lives in the area can testify to this. Candace was once pulled over twice in a one mile stretch for an expired license plate. As Balko points out, driving down a 10-mile stretch of Natural Bridge Road (which runs just north of our house), one passes through 16 different municipalities. Theoretically, you could get pulled over 16 times for the same violation (like expired plates); and if you were, you would have to go to court 16 times and pay 16 fines. Besides the basic injustice of the system, Balko provides overwhelming evidence showing that the municipal-fine system disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. Something has to change.

If the original Washington Post piece is too long for you, see the synopsis in Slate here.