Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ideas for Ferguson, Missouri, and Beyond

The new Ferguson Commission report, created under the purview of the Missouri state government, sounds like it compiles a lot of the parts of what could become a more just and equitable Missouri. Which would then (one hopes) result in a more equitable society.

As described by Emily Badger in the Washington Post, the report goes beyond stopping police violence to the underlying causes:

The report, nearly 200 pages long, fingers every interlocking policy problem — in education, housing, transportation, the courts, employment, law enforcement, public health — implicated in the racial inequality at the heart of Ferguson's unrest. Want to stabilize families in poverty? Rein in unregulated payday lenders. Want to enable a poor parent to get the job that will pay off the parking ticket that will keep her out of jail? Expand Medicaid so a single mom living on $10,000 a year can actually qualify for it (today in Missouri, unbelievably, she makes too much money).

Want to dissuade police departments from ginning up revenue off petty traffic stops that disproportionately impact minorities? Restructure how public services are provided so every micro-suburb doesn't need to fund its own police force. And so a driver with an expired tag doesn't get pulled over multiple times on the same trip as he drives through several jurisdictions (St. Louis County has 81 different municipal courts, and 60 distinct police departments).

This sprawling web — each system and institution is linked to others — isn't unique to Ferguson. That makes the Ferguson report a valuable blueprint for any place with persistent racial inequality, which is just about every place.
Yes to all of that. Now let's see if any of it happens.

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