It’s a dirty secret on the part of law enforcement and the state itself. It’s a means of holding back certain segments of the population — do we dare say “immigrants” — by relegating them to effectively what was once called “Debtor’s Prison.”
The “secret” is a series of punitive fines and late fees charged by California’s traffic system. More than 4 million Californians have lost their driving privileges because they don’t have the money to ticket, according to a report from the Western Center on Law and Poverty. What’s worse, if the tickets remain unpaid, then the fines mount. There’s simply no way out and it hits the poorest segments of our state harder than anyone else.
The secret is that many of those people are already trapped in a cycle of debt and poverty, which benefits neither the state nor anyone else. But no one ever goes after them. Those who someone manage to get the money and pay up get their records cleared. Those who don’t aren’t bothered, unless they violate some other law and then police will be all over them. Worse, law enforcement will go after those owing money to the state if they’re found to be wanted on other charges of wrong-doing.