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Mon Feb 9, 2015, 02:14 PM

Ferguson, Missouri and second town accused of exploiting poor for profit

Source: Reuters

Ferguson, Missouri and second town accused of exploiting poor for profit

Mon Feb 9, 2015 11:19am EST

(Reuters) - Ferguson, Missouri and a second St. Louis suburb are being accused in separate lawsuits of operating a "debtors' prison scheme," illegally jailing poor people who are unable to pay traffic tickets or fines tied to other minor offenses.

The lawsuits, filed on Sunday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by 20 black residents, allege that officials in Ferguson and neighboring Jennings have routinely been abusing and exploiting impoverished individuals to boost city revenues. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the cases.

Ferguson has been the focus of international attention since last year when a white police officer shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, and was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury.

The lawsuits accuse both cities of issuing and enforcing invalid arrest warrants and jailing people who cannot pay fines for long periods without any court appearances in "dangerous and inhumane conditions."

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-usa-missouri-lawsuits-idUSKBN0LD1UV20150209

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