Civil rights lawyers sue Ferguson over 'debtors' prisons'
A lawsuit filed last week is shedding light on one source of racial tensions in Ferguson. The suit concerns the city's alleged use of so-called "debtors' prisons" — the practice of jailing people too poor to pay for minor fines, such as traffic offences.
These policies make people poor - and they keep people poor.- Michael-John Voss, lawyer
Lawyers allege that the cities of Ferguson and nearby Jennings are routinely violating their citizens' civil rights by locking people up for unpaid fines -- a practice that hits the poor, and people of colour, especially hard.
And the issue of local governments squeezing the poor for municipal revenue goes far beyond Ferguson and Jennings. It affects hundreds of communities across the United States.
To find out more, we were joined by:
- Michael-John Voss is the co-founder and managing attorney of ArchCity Defenders.
- Chris Albin-Lackey is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch in New York City. He authored the 2014 report, "Profiting from Probation: America's 'Offender-Funded' Probation Industry."
Let us know what you think.
This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Marc Apollonio.