San Francisco courts test new approach to homeless crimes

Courts around the country tried to ease the burden of fines and fees in the wake of 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, that brought attention to them.

But legal observers say no court appears to have made as dramatic an attempt at reform as San Francisco.

Judges in San Francisco no longer issue warrants to arrest people who fail to show up in court or pay tickets for infractions such as urinating in public. The new policy also applies to traffic violations.

The changes are among a slew of court reform efforts around the country following the shooting death of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.

The ensuing unrest brought attention to an unforgiving torrent of traffic and other minor citations that saddled people with debt and even sent them to jail.