Decriminalization of Poverty and Criminal Justice Reform

My time as a St. Paul prosecutor, and now, a criminal defense attorney has provided with me with an education in our state’s criminal justice system that few Minnesotans get. I have learned that our system is not broken – our system does exactly what it was designed to do. The deck is structurally stacked against those who have less, and in favor of those who have more. In Minnesota, our justice system too often criminalizes poverty, punishing our neighbors and creating barriers to their pursuit of the American Dream. A speeding ticket should not be a debtors’ prison. 

When Philando Castilo was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop, he had been pulled over by police 46 times prior, and carried an astounding $6,000 in traffic debt. This ridiculous and overly punitive revolving door of suspension-citation-fine-suspension-citation-fine does nothing to enhance public safety, creates pretexts for unnecessary stops, and only hurts our fellow Minnesotans.

That is why I have led on issues such as:

  • Ending driver’s license suspension for unpaid traffic tickets
  • Eliminating regressive fines, fees and state surcharges that balance our state’s budget on the backs of our low-income neighbors
  • Ending additional suspensions that result from  paying tickets
  • Reform of civil asset forfeiture
  • End the cash bail system
  • Fully funding Public Defender services
  • Lead opposition to highway blocking enhancement bill
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