Over the years more and more St. Louis municipalities have come to rely on tickets and court fees to fund their city's general revenue. And often those who can least afford it are the ones feeding the system, racking up costly warrants and fines for minor municipal infractions they couldn't pay in the first place. The attorneys at ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit organization that offers legal services for the poor, are working hard to change that never-ending cycle. Not only are they helping individual clients, but they've also brought national attention to the the issue with a white paper that details the countywide problem. This summer the New York Times, Washington Post and other national media cited the study in op-eds and articles, giving much-needed context to the distrust people in Ferguson and other municipalities have toward the police and the courts. ArchCity Defenders are also making a real push to improve the situation. Working with the Saint Louis University School of Law, they have been advocates of a warrant-relief program in St. Louis County, and recently the Ferguson City Council made changes to its court system, abolishing certain fines and providing a month-long period to grant warrant relief. It's not amnesty, but it's a start, and ArchCity Defenders have played a major role in making that happen.
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