There’s new evidence to support what many in the Black community have long suspected: that vulnerable populations are disproportionately targeted for citations.
Political science researchers Michael Sances, of the University of Memphis, and Vanderbilt University’s Hye Young You based their findings on data from over 9,000 cities.
“The average collection was about $8 per person for all cities that get at least some revenue from fines and fees, but that rose to as much as $20 per person in the cities with the highest Black populations,” Vox reported.
Sances told the outlet that many cities “rely on a source of revenue that falls disproportionately on their Black residents.”
This study points to an ongoing problem of the exploitive relationship cities and local law enforcement have with Black populations.
In 2015, the Justice Department found that the police department of Ferguson, Missouri (infamous for being the site where a White cop killed Michael Brown) had a pattern of racial bias – including disproportionately stopping and using force against Black residents.
In 2013, revenue from fines and court fees were almost 10 percent of Ferguson’s budget.
The study also concluded that one potential solution is electing more Black people to local government. The two researchers found that the relationship between race and fines declined by about half when at least one Black person was on a city council.
Though the researchers said full Black representation is unlikely to solve the problem completely, this finding suggests that Black politicians are likely to be more responsive to the concerns of Black citizens.