18 May 2015

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Of the more than 100 reforms proposed in the Missouri state legislature, only one passed:
The Missouri legislature ended its session Friday night having passed virtually none of the reforms activists sought in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown.

Activists had been tracking more than 100 bills related to criminal justice and policing, but just one of substance had made its way out of the legislature, they say.

“This was such an opportunity for the Missouri legislature to step up and do the right thing. The people of the state called on our lawmakers to fix this broken system,” said Denise Lieberman a senior attorney for the Advancement Project, a civil rights group, and co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition, a group formed to address policy reform after Brown’s shooting.

The scores of bills — introduced mostly by the legislature’s few Democrats — offered a menu of reforms. They would have developed standards for eyewitness identification, required body cameras, restricted police from racial profiling, required diversity and sensitivity training, and modified state rules governing the use of lethal force, something Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon threw his support behind in his State of the State address.

The legislature did pass one bill advocates had been calling for, which was aimed at limiting municipal reliance on fines for revenue, a practice highlighted in a scathing Justice Department report on Ferguson released earlier this year. The bill lowers the cap on how much revenue a municipality can generate from traffic tickets from 30 percent to 20 percent statewide and to 12.5 percent in St. Louis County, which is plagued by excessive traffic violations and is home to Ferguson. The bill also bans courts from throwing individuals in jail over minor traffic offenses.
Weak tea.

What a surprise.

I will note that without the protests, even this small bit of reform would never have happened.

Unless you make the Powers That Be profoundly uncomfortable, you will never see any reform.


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