The Obama administration is urging judges across the country to stop handing down jail time to low-income individuals who have unpaid fines.
To entice (bribe?) the courts, Loretta Lynch's Department of Justice is offering grants totaling $2.5 million to states and local governments who update their criminal justice practices following these, and other, recommendations.
According to Essence, state judges received a letter that complained they were infringing on the constitutional rights of their communities by trapping those low-income citizens in a cycle of poverty.
The letter stated:
Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared not toward addressing public safety, but rather toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.
As The New York Times noted, these new actions by the DoJ are a result of its investigation into the Ferguson police department. Because of those conclusions, the Obama administration now believes that minor infractions of the law are what put many minorities into the cycle of incarceration and that is what builds distrust with the police in those communities.
President Obama and the attorney general are now using Ferguson as a cautionary tale for other cities.