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  •  Debtor's prison alive and well in Ohio and Georgia (16+ / 0-)

    People in Ohio and Georgia who owe fees associated with collecting fines  but who can't afford to pay them  are being arrested and sent to jail for failure to pay.  Individuals judged guilty of even the least legal infraction, such as speeding or public drunkenness, have been jailed for failure to pay fees to private companies contracted by the state to collect the adjudicated fines.  Think Progress has two articles detailing such unconstitutional practices, one on Ohio's system and one on Georgia's even more egregious system.

    The Americans Civil Liberties Union on Friday revealed that courts in Ohio are illegally throwing poor people in jail for being unable to pay off a debt.
    In a report titled, “The Outskirts of Hope,” (PDF) the ACLU shines a light on a harrowing “debtors’ prison” system in Ohio — one that violates both the United States’ and the Ohio constitution. Ohioans are being jailed for “as small as a few hundred dollars,” despite the constitutional violation, and the economic evidence that it costs the state more to pay for their jail sentence than the amount of the debt.
    Here is the original ACLU article on Ohio's debtor prison practices.
    On Thursday, an Augusta, Ga., judge issued the latest rebuke against a private probation firm that is holding poor individuals criminally responsible for their failure to pay fees. This time, Sentinel Offender Services had held open an arrest warrant on an individual whose probation term for reckless driving had expired two years earlier.
    The case is one of many challenging this perverse jailing of the poor after they fail to keep up with mounting fees on offenses like rolling through stop signs and public drunkenness.  In Georgia, a law passed in part through bribes and corruption that later landed a public official in jail authorizes every county to hire its own private probationers. Georgia is also the only state in which traffic violations are criminal infractions. The result is a dangerous system in which private probation firms are using every means they have to extract funds from low-level offenders, including jail time.
    Just in case you think we have moved beyond the Charles Dickens world of locking up poor people just because they're poor, think again.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 05:17:16 AM PDT

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