City of Jennings to pay $4.7 million settlement for ticketing pr - KMOV.com

City of Jennings to pay $4.7 million settlement for ticketing practices

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JENNINGS (KMOV.com) -

The City of Jennings has agreed to pay $4.7 million to people who were jailed for unpaid traffic tickets or court cost.

It stems from a case ArchCity Defenders brought against Jennings. The legal group is known for representing the poor and homeless in the St. Louis area.

"We have become comfortable with locking people in cages in America that we are now doing it because they owe money,” said Thomas Harvey Co-founder and executive director of ArchCity Defenders.

Harvey argued the ticketing practice is a cycle that specially targets the poor. He said it begins with things like unpaid traffic tickets which then lead to fines. Those fines stack up and eventually lead to jail time.

"I mean you're talking about folks who live on less than $700 a month total. I think any rational human being would take the money they had to pay their rent to buy food or pay the utility bill instead of paying one of these other things,” he said.

It’s called the Debtor’s Prison case and is for those people arrested between February 8, 2010 and September 16, 2015.

Harvey says 2,000 people are eligible for the settlement.

"To my knowledge it's the biggest settlement in the country on a case like this, the biggest piece is the number of people impacted,” Harvey said.

Those who file a claim will receive between $400 and $500 for each day they spent in jail during that five year period.           

Harvey said the goal is to stop system which promotes the ticketing practices.        

"No one in this case is a danger to the community. They are poor people and we know they are poor because anyone who had $300 to get out of the Jennings jail would pay the $300 to get out of the Jennings jail or Ladue's jail or St. Louis County’s jail, or Ferguson's jail,” he said.

People have until November 24 to postmark their claim. Forms can be found here on the City of Jennings website.

They can also pick up the form at the ArchCity defenders office in downtown St. Louis where employees will help them fill out the forms. Forms can also be found at the Lewis & Clark library and the Natural Bridge library both in St. Louis County.

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