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Personal Narrative: Tina Marie Phares

Ms. Phares was convicted of failure to pay nine times and sentenced to 30 days in jail seven times. She entered a treatment program in 2017 and is now drug-free. In 2018, Ms. Phares completed three months of temporary work, bringing home her first paycheck since her son died. She still owes $15000 in court debt. No inquiry was ever made as to her ability to pay.

Personal Narrative: Nikita Lee Mahoney

Mrs. Mahoney was held for 42 days on a cash bail of $1315 because she was unable to pay a failure to appear charge. The charge was later dropped. However, to avoid imprisonment on a contempt charge, she pled guilty and this resulted in $20,000 additional debt.

Texas Chapter 175 Collections Improvement Program (1 TAC §175)

Starting in 2018, Texas’ Office of Court Administration (OCA) made changes to the rule that requires Texas counties and cities with a population of 100,000 or more to implement a Collection Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP webpage also includes a variety of sample language for court and program staff to use, including “Sample Payment Plan Application” and “Sample First Written Notice.”

Edwards v. Leaders in Community Alternatives

Alameda County contracts with Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA) to provide court-ordered GPS tracking and alcohol monitoring devices for people on pre-trial or home detention. Although LCA is supposed to charge fees on a sliding scale based on a person’s ability to pay, LCA does not adjust its fees based on a person’s actual financial circumstances and never informs people that reduced fees are available.

Why journalists should cover local jails

In this article for The Poynter Institute, Al Tompkins underscores the importance of journalists covering local jails and suggests several coverage angles that journalists can use to convince readers to care more about incarceration at the local level.
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