Community Warrant Clinic for 1200 fresh starts

Imagine you can't pay a $100 speeding ticket.  As a consequence, you lose your driver’s license.  How do you get to work, to earn money to pay off the ticket?  So you lose your job.  The city charges interest and late fees on your ticket, and over the years $100 turns into $2500 of debt.  The city keeps summoning you to court to explain why you can't pay.  How do you get there?  So you miss a court appearance.  Now there is a warrant for your arrest.  Every time you drive your child to school or a doctor's appointment, you risk arrest and additional fines for driving without a license. 

Driving people into poverty isn't crime prevention—it increases and contributes to crime. 

In New Orleans, as in cities across America, this cycle is disturbingly common. Each year, New Orleans collects about $4 million in fines while spending $5 million incarcerating people who can't afford to pay fines.  This is clearly counterproductive!  And, due to both the racial wealth gap and racial profiling in traffic stops, Black residents are disproportionately harmed by these practices.

Stand With Dignity (Stand) is working to change this.  In 2017, Stand started warrant clinics as a way to give people with old warrants a fresh start. A warrant clinic organizes judges to review and expunge old municipal warrants, mostly for traffic infractions, mostly past the statute of limitations.  Judges at the clinic also reduce fines and fees to an affordable amount so that people can pay their debts and break the cycle of criminalized poverty.  Through the expungement of an old warrant, people regain access to their driver’s licenses, to their employment, and to more full participation in their communities.

At its last clinic, Stand served 1200 clients, wiping out 300 old warrants and $2,000,000 in old court debt in 1 day.  With your help, they will do it again in October 2019.

Our $10,000 fundraising goal will fund radio ads and billboards, laptops to help logistics run smoother, and child care and food for the all-day & all night event.  

Stand has a long history of leading transformative, grassroots change in and around New Orleans.  Since 2007, Stand has won a living wage ordinance (include a week of paid vacation), improved local hiring policies for major city contracts, and increased union membership in order to fight poor working conditions.  Now, Stand is advocating for New Orleans to make warrants automatically expire once the statute of limitations runs out, to stop taking away driver’s licenses, and to limit fines and fees based on ability to pay.  This new project will reduce the burden of structural unemployment for people with involvement in the legal system.   

Thank you advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to us.

More about Stand: Stand with Dignity  is a grassroots membership organization of Black workers and families dedicated to winning inclusion, opportunity, and racial equity in New Orleans. Our members are structurally underemployed and unemployed black workers fighting for equitable inclusion in the New Orleans Economy.  Stand With Dignity was founded in 2007 to promote inclusive employment in New Orleans after Katrina.  

NOWCRJ is dedicated to organizing workers across race and industry to build the power and participation of workers and communities. We organize day laborers, guestworkers, and homeless residents to build movement for dignity and rights in the post-Katrina landscape.

Donations ()

  • Joanie Macaroni 
    • $25 
    • 4 mos
  • Kathryn Hencir 
    • $75 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Dan Meyer 
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
See all

Organizer

David McKenna 
Organizer
Medford, MA
New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice (National Guestworkers Alliance) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
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