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Lessons on warrant reform from Ferguson.

Two Black men were killed by police last month, and in both cases, police were attempting to serve arrest warrants. The Into America podcast goes to Ferguson, Mo. to understand the successes and challenges of warrant reform.

About this episode:

It often takes a tragedy to start a conversation around reform in this country.

So when two Black men, Duante Wright and Andrew Brown Jr., were killed by police last month as officers were attempting to serve arrest warrants, calls for warrant reform joined the chorus of other demands for change. Last week, Minnesota lawmakers began the process of trying to answer those calls and put forward a bill that would replace arrest warrants with a written warning system for most misdemeanor offenses.

Ferguson, Missouri may offer lessons about warrant reform to other cities. Reforming the warrant system became a priority in 2015, after the Department of Justice released their report on Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing the year before. The report noted that in 2013, Ferguson courts issued nearly 33,000 warrants for arrest, in a city of 21,000 people. The overwhelming majority of warrants were for Black residents.

ArchCity Defenders, a legal advocacy organization, helped push for warrant reform in the St. Louis region in 2015 and continues the work today. Executive director Blake Strode talks to Trymaine Lee about how warrants are used to police Black communities, the successes and challenges of warrant reform, and what other places can learn from Ferguson’s fight for justice.

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Find the transcript here.

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