Like, actually good - not even in a soulless, schadenfreude way. My city of New Orleans has done something legitimately progressive: dismissed all fines and warrants for traffic-related offenses. It’s not NEW news, but I saw this opinion piece today which reminded me of it.
A staggering one in seven adult New Orleanians has a warrant out for their arrest. As we found in our recent report, NOLA Shakedown: How Criminalizing Municipal Fines & Fees Traps Poor & Working Class Black New Orleanians in Poverty, more than 56,000 outstanding warrants are in the Municipal and Traffic Court, and the vast majority of these warrants are for minor offenses that cause little to no harm to society, including thousands for crimes of homelessness and poverty. Given that New Orleans has the highest poverty rate of any major American city, it’s no surprise that tens of thousands of New Orleanians have been swept up into this cycle.
It’s true we are a blue island in a red sea, but we have been slow and inept at addressing the cycle of poverty and crime that our residents are trapped in (which has been exacerbated by housing costs skyrocketing over the past few years, like everywhere else). Progressive would be a stretch for us, for the most part. But civil rights organizations are considering this a very big deal (specifically because of New Orleans’ significance as a black and otherwise racially diverse community) and I’m really happy to see it.