How Policing for Profit can lead to a Debtors’ Prisons Part 2 Readers Comments: NMA E-Newsletter #430

The National Motorists Association received some thoughtful comments from readers like you and thought we should share them.  If you missed reading Part 1, click HERE

Sadly, what you write rings true. My old home town, Cambridge, NY, has for years supported an aggressive policing for profit operation on NY route 22. They have a partnership (i.e., they have the same police chief) with neighboring Greenwich, NY, which runs an identical operation on NY route 29. A couple of years ago, one of the Cambridge Village Board members actually went on record (as duly reported by “The Eagle”, the local paper) complaining that the police department wasn’t bringing in nearly enough money from tickets. Fortunately, Cambridge doesn’t have a jail or ready access to one, but it appears most people cough up the fines for offenses ranging from “inadequate lighting” (I haven’t a clue about what this means) to speeding. Bear in mind that speeding is a criminal offense in NY, so the threat of jail time and a criminal record if you either don’t or can’t pay a fine is very real.



What a necessary article! Thank you. Speed traps, red-light cameras, civil asset forfeiture, judges violating due process in order to bring in more traffic court cash — The robber barons steal in broad daylight under the color of law.  Another thought — Wasn’t the original intent of a Driver’s License a way to signify competence in operating a car?  So then how can the court suspend the license for other reasons?  Mission creep at its worst.

Johnson, California


This newsletter misses a major problem with the abusive use of fines and forfeitures as a source of revenue.   Police departments are supposed to serve and protect, not raise revenue.  Raising revenue is an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Fines and forfeitures should never be used as a substitute for taxation and this source of revenue should never be allocated to a general operating fund.

There are four proper uses of revenue generated by fines and forfeitures. They are:

  1. It should be used to cover the cost of enforcing the particular law that generated the revenue,
  2. It should be used compensate victims of the crime.
  3. It should be used to compensate whistleblowers that exposed the criminal acts.
  4. If there is any revenue left over it should be allocated to “a rainy day fund” which is used exclusively to cover unforeseen emergencies.

Helwig F. Van Der Grinten, Texas


Follow the Money?

I don’t know who has the resources to thoroughly examine economic and societal costs of the “speed kills” mantra speed law setting and enforcement.

We all know lawyers and insurance companies profit—but that’s a “whole ‘nother” story.

My one contested instance of a ticket showed me a dozen deputies in and around the fortress courtroom—just to hear traffic cases, not to mention the costs of building and maintain way more courtrooms than we might otherwise need.

And how about the annual cost of hiring, training, equipping (automobiles and such) and paying speed cops to sit all day along a really safe place to speed, not on curves or sharp hills, not in the rain or snow, and seldom in the darkness—all places where it might make more sense.

The one candidate I like for governor who sadly had to drop out due to family health issues, like my proposal for privatizing Virginias DMV. “Any convenience store could issue licenses and tags!” He loved it! But how about accepting fines for “minor” traffic “offenses?” Cut out the court costs of, say, $100 or more and make $10″

And the worst effect of enforcing unpopular and idiotic laws is the cynicism it has engendered in the motoring public towards police, and even authority itself.

Michael Smith, Virginia


I just read the NMA article about “Debter’s Prison” for non-payment of traffic fines. Seems to me that to many people have their hand in the “cookie jar” when it comes to traffic law enforcement. It has simply become a “for profit” business with nothing to do with traffic safety.

Traffic fines have become disproportionately high for the offense committed in many states and localities. It seems that the old saying that “the punishment should fit the crime” has been completely ignored when it comes to traffic law enforcement.

Traffic fines simply need to be lowered to a fair and just amount nationwide and there would be no need for “Debter’s Prisons” and policing for profit would come to an abrupt end.

H.Bruce Gallun, Texas

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