Amarillo residents were jailed through the City’s “pay or lay” policy. It stated, “…except as otherwise provided, the Court shall require the defendant to remain in custody… until the fine, State imposed fees and other penalties are paid."
On September 17, 2015, Circuit Judge Wiggins from Perry County Alabama threatened defendants who appeared before him for a previously scheduled “pay-due” docket. He informed them, “If you do not have any money and you do not want to go to jail…you can give blood today…bring in a receipt indicating that you gave blood…”
Hakes could not afford to make any payments. Probation was revoked because he was unable to pay. Hakes filed a complaint stating payment for the bracelet is punitive and does not promote public safety.
Defendant argued that the imposition of court fines and fees is a tax, violated the separation of powers doctrine, and failed to comply with the Distinct Statement Clause.
In Pagedale, MO, the local government was using arrest warrants to collect civil debt from municipal code violations. A suit against the city resulted in a consent decree that reformed the city's ticketing, housing code, and court systems.
On appeal, the Court found, per curiam, a trial court may not revoke a defendant’s probation and send him to prison unless there is a finding that he or she has the ability to pay restitution and is in willful default.
Plaintiffs alleged that the City of Austin jails people who are unable to pay court fines and fees. There is no inquiry into their ability to pay, no appointment of counsel, and community service is not offered as an alternative.
Providence Community Corrections (PCC), a private for profit organization, was the manager of the misdemeanor probation system for Rutherford County, Tennessee. Those who could afford to pay the fees were placed on unsupervised probation, those who could not were supervised by PCC. PCC was funded solely by the people it supervised. Probationers were threatened with arrest and revocation of probation which would result in additional fees and court costs.
This case alleged that the City of Biloxi operated a debtor’s prison, routinely jailing indigent people who could not afford to pay fines and fees imposed in traffic and misdemeanor cases.
The City of Jackson routinely incarcerated people for failing to pay fines and fees without any inquiry as to their ability to pay.