Day #049: Standard Parking as witnesses in court

How much city revenue justifies the abandonment of the burden of proof placed on the city and the presumption of innocence guaranteed to its residents?

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Require Standard Parking and Redflex Group to appear as witnesses in court.
  • Difficulty: 3 — Standard Parking and Redflex would never agree to such a contract, so it forces the issue of revenue generation through law enforcement.

Surely there are some areas of government that should be limited to the public-sector. We have yet to privatize courts. Some states have many private prisons, but Virginia has only one privately run middle-secuirty prison. Parking enforcement on the other hand, a branch of law enforcement in the broad sense of the term, has somehow been contracted to the private sector.

Standard Parking issues roughly 120,000 parking tickets per year generating several million dollars of revenue. The city and Standard Parking have a five-year, $15 million contract–that also absolves Standard Parking from the legal burdens of enforcement.

The company can dole out those little green envelopes but they aren’t required to appear as witnesses in court. If the city has to generate revenue through law-enforcement, then it should require Standard Parking and Redflex Group to be witnesses in court in their next contracts.

This is a rather idealistic complaint, but it hits at the core of two things discussed yesterday: the social contract and rule of law. A personal anecdote: fefore going on a car diet, I was appealing a parking ticket, and the judge couldn’t read the ticket issued by a Standard Parking employee. The case ended with an oath and a promise of innocence. The abandonment of the presumption of innocence, even in the most trivial of cases, is a crime against the founding principles of this country.

This isn’t a problem plaguing Richmond, it isn’t a problem that will turn into a slippery slope that ends in the collapse of our social contract, but it does limit the moral high ground of our city’s courts to the tune of 1.2 million of city revenue per year. Some aspects of society are worth protecting even if there is an opportunity cost; protecting the integrity of our laws certainly deserves that attention.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: karimiaz

  • error

    Report an error

Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

There are 3 reader comments. Read them.