Saint Louis University Law Professors seek clemency for nonviolent offenders in Ferguson

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FERGUSON, MISSOURI ( KPLR)- In the wake of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, Law professors at Saint Louis University are asking Ferguson Mayor James Knowles to grant clemency to thousands of non-violent offenders . Some SLU professors say many residents can't afford to pay the fines.

According to figures provided by the Missouri State's Attorney General Office, Ferguson police are much more likely to stop , search and arrest African-American drivers than white drivers.

Some Saint Louis University Law professors and St. Louis University Law students gathered Thursday to explore the social legal implications of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri . SLU Law Professor Brendan Roediger wants Ferguson Mayor James Knowles to drop efforts to collect over-due fines for traffic tickets and grant clemency to thousands of nonviolent offenders . "Those folks who have warrants for failure to pay, those folks who have been convicted for non-violent offenses. We ask the mayor to wipe out those fines, to wipe out those warrants and give them an opportunity to live their lives without the threat of incarceration." said Professor Roediger.

The city of Ferguson has a population of about 21,000 and has more than 40,000 outstanding warrants for non-violent offenders . Roediger says although many have already served jail time, residents still have unpaid fines. "We are not talking about robberies , we are not talking about murders. These are jay -walking, speeding and running a stop sign. Many of these folks have been locked up for two days or three weeks for these offenses already," said Roediger.

Some North County residents hope the Mayor Knowles will take a closer look at the proposal ."A poor person in this community can not afford $300 and $500 d fines when they go to court ,it's ridiculous, " said resident Ricky Canamore.

"We are just trying to start over as a community and have a fresh start from a new point. I think that could be a stepping stone," said resident Alexis Templeton

Statement from the City of Ferguson:

The mayor has absolutely no authority to recall warrants. The municipal judge has authority to recall warrants.

Ferguson is a constitutional charter city and there is no express authority for the mayor or council to pardon municipal court defendants.