Ferguson has been a work in progress since Mike Brown’s death at the hands of then Ferguson officer Darren Wilson last August. Subsequent protests about the event and Ferguson’s broken judicial system led to an internal investigation in which the Department of Justice found: racist emails and a disproportionate amount of offenses held against African Americans (two thirds of Ferguson’s population.) Ferguson officials named in the reports were either fired or forced to resign, like former Municipal Court Judge Ronald Brockmeyer (who stepped down in March) who was accused of “significantly increasing court collections over the years" and sending people to jail when they couldn’t afford a fine. In June Judge Donald McCullin was appointed to the position and today he announced major court reforms that he believes will give residents a “fresh start.”
The changes include an order to withdraw all arrest warrants issued before December 31, 2014 as well as warrants more than five years old. Judge McCullin said in a press release that defendants will get new court dates and alternative penalties like community service or payment plans for fines if defendants can’t afford them. Changes also include conditions for Pre-Trial release and the possible reinstatement of a defendant’s driver’s license if it was suspended after a defendant’s failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine, pending the result of a case.
Judge McCullin said in a statement,
Examples of the rampant racism in Ferguson included the fact that 88% of cases in which Ferguson police reported using force were against African Americans. Or the fact that between 2012 and 2014 black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched, while being 26% less likely to actually have contraband found in their possession.
You can read the full statement below: