GOOD

Here’s How Ferguson’s New Municipal Judge Is Helping Heal His Community

Just months into his appointment, Judge Donald McCullin is withdrawing warrants, reissuing driver’s licenses, and rebuilding trust by overhauling a trouble justice system.

image via (cc) flickr user fibonacciblue

It’s a series of moves likely to raise eyebrows, but for residents of Ferguson, Missouri, it could be an important step down a path of healing for the embattled community. This week Donald McCullin, the city's recently-appointed municipal judge, announced he would be withdrawing all warrants issued before December 31, 2014. He would also go about rescheduling existing court dates, and restructuring potential penalties, such as fines and community service.


In a released statement, McCullin, who took over Ferguson’s municipal courts just this past June, says “These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the Court... and giving many residents a fresh start.”

While withdrawing the warrants doesn’t mean a suspect’s criminal case itself is being erased, it does allow people a fresh chance at re-engaging with the local justice system through rescheduled court dates, alternate sentence options, and a renewed sense of transparency for the legal process as a whole. What’s more, explains St. Louis’ KSDK-TV, in instances where a person’s driver’s license had been suspended by the local Director of Revenue for missing a court date, or failing to pay a fine, those licenses would be eligible for re-issue, pending a final court decision. Similarly, suspects arrested for minor traffic violations will not face incarceration, and will rather be released and provided with another court date. Even the physical location of the municipal court has be changed, with defendants no longer reporting for court appearances at the city administrative building. Court will, instead, be held in the same series of buildings that house the Ferguson Police Department, reports KSDK-TV.

image via (cc) flickr user joegratz

These are the sort of procedural alterations which, while relatively minor-sounding, have the potential for dramatic impact within the community. McCullin’s ruling comes after a recent Justice Department inquiry in which federal investigators found the town frequently used the threat of warrants as a means to compel suspects to pay municipal fines in a system that was heavily biased against African-American residents.

While Judge McCullin’s new ruling represents a very real step toward rebuilding a city so fraught with tension and mistrust, it is ultimately not, in and of itself, a solution. Still, many are hopeful that this move will serve to help bring the community together. Speaking with CNN, Ferguson Township Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes said:

“As an activist you are going to stay mad because you are not going to always get all that you want. But because of the pushing and the pressure that protesters put on Ferguson, I am considering it a win and a very big win. It's an olive branch”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, seems to agree, telling KSDK-TV:

“The Ferguson City Council was informed of the proposed actions by Judge McCullin and applauds the recall of the arrest warrants and the rescission of the driver's license suspensions in compliance with Senate Bill 5 and as a way to restore confidence in the Municipal Court”

Judge McCullin’s ruling comes just over one year after the August 9, 2014 shooting death of Ferguson teenager Mike Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement, which sprung up in the wake of Brown’s death, has gone on to become a national effort, with activists and advocates taking to the streets, and the polls, to advance the cause.

[via quartz]

Articles
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture