Brookside is a small town in Alabama where police used a civil war-era state loophole to create a traffic ticketing nightmare for residents and generate piles of cash for the local government. After years of abuse, the people are fighting back.
Just 20 minutes north of Birmingham on Interstate 22, Brookside is a working-class town with less than 1,300 residents. From 2018 to 2020, income from traffic fines and forfeitures increased 640%, making up 49% of the towns revenue. In 2019, Brookside saw its first lawsuit that included allegations of racism and police misconduct. It caught national attention for being a predatory speed trap in 2022 and now facing a class-action federal lawsuit.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Archibald;
Brookside residents Sandra Harris and Ashley;
Alabama Appleseeds Research Director Leah Nelson;
Birmingham criminal and civil rights lawyer Bill Dawson, head of the Jefferson County Public Defenders
Thank you to our podcast partner, 70 Million, for the story Highway Robbery: How a Small-Town Traffic Trap Became A Legal Black Hole.