This bench card was created as part of a 2016 settlement agreement in Kennedy v. Biloxi, an ACLU lawsuit against the city of Biloxi, Mississippi, where defendants could avoid incarceration only if they paid their fines and fees immediately, in full, with cash.
This video provides an overview of the history of debtors’ prisons in the U.S. and features compelling commentary from citizens describing how our current system of court fines and fees put them in difficult situations and made them resort to desperate measures for survival.
Plaintiffs alleged that the Sherwood’s “hot check” court routinely jailed indigent persons unable to pay court fines and fees without inquiry into their ability to pay.
In violation of due process rights, the City of Florissant jails people unable to pay court fines and fees without any inquiry into their ability to pay.
As budgets tighten, municipalities have turned to fines and fees to fill empty coffers. The result is that the rich may walk away, while the poor must pay or stay.
Fifteen percent of the Bogalusa City Court’s revenue is derived from court fines and fees. Judge Black gives indigent defendants the options of jail for nonpayment of fines and fees or the payment of an illegal $50 extension fee to buy additional time to pay their court debt.
Rozzie Scott, a resident of Bogalusa, Louisiana was found guilty of stealing $5 worth of food to feed his family. Judge Black ordered him to pay $450 in court fines and fees.
This order amends ten Michigan Court Rules to ensure that defendants are not incarcerated and probation terms are not extended because of unpaid fines and fees.
Levi Lane owed $4300.49 in traffic warrants. He was arrested for his inability to pay fines and fees. Mr. Lane was incarcerated for 24 days.
This case challenged the City of El Paso’s payment policy for Class C misdemeanors – usually parking tickets.