California governor pitches amnesty on traffic debt for poor

AP News
Posted: May 23, 2015 11:54 AM
California governor pitches amnesty on traffic debt for poor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing an amnesty program for Californians who can't afford to pay off spiraling traffic fines and court penalties.

The push by the Democratic governor spotlights growing concern among lawmakers and court administrators that California's justice system is profiting off minorities and low-income residents.

Brown's spokesman Evan Westrup said the issue has prompted discussions between the state and U.S. Department of Justice.

It's not clear if the Justice Department has launched an inquiry into California's court system. The department did not return requests for comment, and Westrup declined to provide details.

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Advocates for the poor have criticized California's courts as a pay-to-play system.

The state has suspended 4.8 million driver's licenses since 2006 related to traffic fines. In that same time, only 83,000 licenses have been reinstated.