Article: Neil L. Sobol, “Lessons Learned from Ferguson: Ending Abusive Collection of Criminal Justice Debt,” 15 U. Md. L.J. Race Relig. Gender & Class 293 (2015).
On March 4, 2015, the Department of Justice released its scathing report of the Ferguson Police Department calling for “an entire reorientation of law enforcement in Ferguson” and demanding that Ferguson “replace revenue-driven policing with a system grounded in the principles of community policing and police legitimacy, in which people are equally protected and treated with compassion, regardless of race.” Unfortunately, abusive collection of criminal justice debt is not limited to Ferguson. This Article, prepared for a discussion group at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference in July 2015, identifies the key findings in the Department of Justice’s report and discusses the major points to be learned from the allegations in Ferguson. The lessons learned from Ferguson should be a guide to other municipalities that are or may be on the brink of developing similar abusive collection practices.