Have We Learned Nothing from Ferguson?

Apparently the US Department Administration did not. There is a story in The New York Times today:  Justice Dept. Revokes 25 Legal Guidance Documents Dating to 1975. Among these legal guidance documents was the Department of Justice’s advice in response to Ferguson and the imposition of fines and fees.

Throughout our country there are far too many fines and fees that are not just unfair to the poor, they ultimately undermine the perception that judges are fair. With the decline in trust in government institutions, courts need to be vigilant that of the three branches of government, the judiciary’s power (and independence) comes from the public’s trust in the fairness of judges. Leadership on this must now come from state courts and individual judges willing to say, “I will not do this anymore.” In effect, fines and fees have transformed the halls of justice into for-profit courts.

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