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Full statement from Americans for Prosperity-Montana State Director, David Herbst on LC060, a bill that would end Montana’s debt-based driver’s license suspension policy:
Our criminal justice system should keep our communities safe, rehabilitate people, and recognize the potential in every person to transform their life and contribute to society. Unfortunately, our current criminal justice policies leave us far from that ideal. They criminalize poverty and disproportionately harm minorities and low-income communities.
This is evident in Montana’s current policy of suspending the driver’s licenses of men and women who are unable to immediately pay court fines and fees when they are incurred.
This counterproductive policy disproportionately affects low-income Montanans who need a reliable mode of transportation if they are to work to pay their fines. In addition to the burden the law poses on those affected, there is little evidence that the policy is an effective way for the state to collect outstanding debt.
It’s time to change this unjust and outdated policy.
Thankfully, the Montana legislature has the opportunity to do just that. LC 0606 would put an end to Montana’s misguided license suspension policy – allowing folks with unpaid fines to maintain their means of transportation and generate income, which will enable them to pay back their fines in a timely manner.
The ACLU of Montana and AFP-Montana certainly don’t agree on every issue but when it comes to removing an obvious barrier to opportunity for individuals who want to pay fines they owe and be productive members of society, there is no disagreement.
We’re pleased to partner with the ACLU of Montana and lawmakers to work toward a justice system that upholds public safety but affords people second chance opportunities to transform their lives and be productive members of our communities.