Trump’s AG Moves To Throw People In Prison — Just For Being Poor
If you’re poor, you’re screwed by Trump
One of the many policies the Obama Administration enacted to protect people from the legal damnations of poverty was the ending of debtors’ prisons; institutions that exist for the sole purpose of entrapping poor people who are unable to pay fines.
Of course, like other Obama Era policies, the Trump Administration saw fit to demolish them no matter how good they were. In this case the Trump Administration is using the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions to retract this guideline. Their justification? The ridiculous claim that the Obama era rule circumvented the proper process for implementing new regulations (evidently Sessions is oblivious to Trump’s consistent use of executive orders to push forward his agenda over Congress).
In other words, Sessions believes that poor people should be jailed for their socioeconomic status. We emphasize this aspect because the fines people are being arrested for rarely have anything to do with actual finances like paying rent or paying taxes. They typically involve law enforcement fees issued to fill the coffers of local government. These tickets are usually nuisance fines, including tickets for nonsensical “crimes” like violating trash-disposal guidelines or letting weeds grow in a yard. Or excessively large traffic fines, or court fees. Perhaps not just coincidentally, these schemes tend to primarily target disenfranchised individuals, who in turn tend to primarily consist of minorities.
Writing for The New York Times, Chiraag Bains, a lawyer involved in the Michael Brown murder case, revealed one example of this occurring in Ferguson, Missouri, where the Black Lives Matter movement took hold:
“Ferguson used its criminal justice system as a for-profit enterprise, extracting millions from its poorest citizens. Internal emails revealed the head of finance directing policing strategy to maximize revenue rather than ensure public safety. Officers told us they were pressured to issue as many tickets as possible.”
“At the time of our investigation, over 16,000 people had outstanding arrest warrants from Ferguson, a city of 21,000. Untold numbers found themselves perpetually in debt to the city and periodically confined to its jail.”
Bains went on to point out similar instances like this occurring in other parts of the country, indicating that it is a widespread problem that these revocations from the Trump Administration are only going to make worse.
Regardless, none of this comes as a surprise. We previously reported on an unearthed video showing Jeff Sessions advocate for a return to discriminatory police procedures like Broken Windows, and Trump himself has had a racist history. Putting the two in charge of the national criminal justice system was only going to end in disaster.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
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