“Not all parking violations are the same.” John He Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Steven Long, Challenging the City of Seattle’s Excessive Fine as Unconstitutional

John He (’20), Current Fellow with the Debtors’ Prison Project at the Public Justice Foundation, published a piece for Public Justice regarding his organization’s amicus brief filed in City of Seattle v. Long, pending before the Washington Supreme Court, on behalf of a homeless man who was charged over $500 for a parking infraction (“$500 Fine Imposed On Homeless Man Shows Why We Need The Excessive Fines Clause,” Feb. 16). “[O]n a cold and rainy Seattle night, [Steven Long] returned from work to find that the truck he was living in had been towed for violating a city ordinance that prohibited parking on public property for longer than seventy-two hours. Although Steven explained that he was homeless and had only $50 to his name, a Seattle court required that he agree to pay over $500 to recover his truck; otherwise, the City would auction it off. With the truck—his only shelter—hanging in the balance, Steven agreed to an onerous, yearlong payment plan to pay off his debt. . . . Requiring a person in this circumstance to pay an over $500 fine serves no clear penological purpose; it’s nonsensical. The Washington Supreme Court should reject the lower court’s toothless standard and instead require courts to engage in meaningful analysis of an individual’s circumstances when imposing a fine.”