FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MORE's Statement on Passage of SB 5: A Huge Step Forward for Justice!
We would like to commend the legislators who took a step in the right direction today, and stood with fellow Missourians in the search for justice in the region and the abolition of predatory municipal courts and their practices. We urge the Governor to sign this bill as soon as possible. For low income people in the region, these are vital changes. The most important issues are the ending of jail time for unpaid traffic tickets, the cap in court costs at $300, and the rules on conflict of interest for judges.
Tymon Reed, someone who was recently incarcerated for traffic tickets in Velda City said, “This is a wonderful step forward for justice in this region.”
Sean Bailey, who has been in and out of jail for years because of traffic tickets he has been unable to pay commented, “It's about time that jail time is eliminated for municipal changes. This will have a huge impact on my day to day life. I just got a new job, and now I won't have to worry about losing it over sitting in jail for some traffic tickets.”
MORE has been organizing around predatory municipal court practices for over a year, engaging in activities from doorknocking at Judge Maura McShane’s house, disrupting courts, and releasing a report, “Transforming St. Louis County’s Racist Municipal Courts.”
Jeff Ordower, MORE’s Executive Director state, “We want to acknowledge how important this is for hundreds of thousands of people in St. Louis County facing jail time, who, like Sean, can now not worry about losing their jobs. In addition, MORE will continue to advocate for the abolition of these racist municipal courts.”
Derek Laney, co-coordinator of the Cowry Collective, a local timebank that allows people to exchange goods and services using “time dollars” instead of money, added, “ SB5 is a major step forward for justice. But, for many low-income people, even $300 is a lot to pay. As SB5 is implemented, we urge municipalities to think creatively about integrating alternative economic structures like timebanking into community service options. We have the exciting opportunity to use the municipal courts as a blueprint for a new kind of economics in our region. ”
(People who have been in jail for traffic warrants available for comment)