Let John Oliver Explain How Petty Municipal Fines Destroy the Lives of Our Most Vulnerable


As demonstrated by the Justice Department’s damning investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, police officials often rely on slapping hefty municipal fines to fund government. Such practices are rampant in towns across the country.

On the latest Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took on the issue with an in-depth report explaining how a petty traffic violation—a ticket some people can simply shrug off as a nuisance—can actually wreck the lives of society’s most vulnerable citizens, and sometimes even land people in jail.

“Most Americans drive to work,” he explained. “If you can’t do that, you’ve got a problem. In New Jersey, a survey of low-income drivers who had their license suspended found that 64 percent had lost their jobs as a result, which doesn’t help anyone. You need them to pay their fine but you’re taking away their means of paying it. That’s the most self-defeating idea since gay conversion camp!”

While Oliver says he’s not advocating for minor offenses to go without punishment, people should have the “right to fuck up once in a while without completely destroying our lives.”

Watch below:

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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