D.C. Makes the Case for Decriminalizing Fare Evasion

The District may soon remove criminal penalties from fare evasion with a proposal that would lower fines and strike the possibility of jail time.
November 21, 2017, 6am PST | Elana Eden
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Oran Viriyincy

In the past year, officials in New York, Washington state, and California have relaxed the consequences to fare evasion, or decriminalized it altogether; in Cleveland, enforcement duties were recently transferred from police to civilian inspectors. In light of another decriminalization proposal in D.C., the Washington Post's Martine Powers looks into why some lawmakers are backing down from the broken windows approach to transit fares.

"Targeted enforcement campaigns are bound to ensnare poor and low-income people who don’t have the money to pay their fares — let alone fines," Powers explains. Cracking down on a crime of poverty through steep fines—or with police encounters, a major predictor of police killings—is not only inequitable, lawmakers argue, but also impractical: The resources needed to prosecute the minor offense are less likely to be recouped, while taking no action has yet to yield negative consequences.

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Published on Sunday, November 12, 2017 in The Washington Post
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