27 Jul Pagedale Civil Rights Lawsuit Prompted Change
When the Missouri General Assembly enacted a law limiting a municipality’s operating revenue from court costs and fines to 20%, one of the unintended consequences was that municipalities had to seek other ways to generate revenue. One example was the City of Pagedale, which issued tickets for what some alleged to be, “petty and harmless” behaviors. Some of the tickets involved letting children play in a splash pool in the front lawn, wearing saggy pants, failing to walk on the left side of a road or crosswalk and not hanging matching curtains in front windows. A civil rights lawsuit was filed in November 2015. The City denied these practices were in place to essentially use residents as “piggy-banks” to fund operations because of limited tax revenue from the 20% cap. Through additional litigation, the Pagedale civil rights lawsuit prompted change in the City of Pagedale.
Pagedale Civil Rights Lawsuit Prompted Change
The City agreed to dismiss all cases and withdraw all warrants issued after January 1, 2010 unless it showed “good cause” to pursue the case. The City now factors in a defendant’s ability to pay the fine. This should help eliminate the so-called “debtor’s prison” cycle. John Oliver ran an excellent segment on his show about debtor’s prisons generally, which can be found here. In some states, the court issues a warrant if a person is unable to pay their file and the person could be locked up. The person is then stuck in a vicious cycle of having increased fines, being unable to keep a job because he is locked up and getting locked up again. The last change Pagedale instituted is an overhaul to their violations and nuisance codes to bring them in line with the rest of St. Louis County by repealing obscure ordinances. The ruling from the Pagedale civil rights lawsuit prompted change and is considered a big win for the residents of Pagedale.