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.
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.
This case challenged Benton County, Washington’s practice of incarcerating indigent defendants for failure to pay court fines and fees without any inquiry into their financial status or ability to pay.
In Alexander City, municipal court defendants must pay their court fines and fees from traffic debt in full by the end of the court day, usually 3:00 p.m. Persons unable to pay are forced to sit out their time in city jail, at the rate of $20 per day until someone pays their debt.
Summary of the cause of action The New Orleans Parish Criminal District Court jails indigent defendants who are unable to pay post-judgement court fines and fees. Court costs are imposed …
Plaintiff, a 20 year old college student, was sentenced to jail because he was unable to pay a $206 statutory fine with $33 in court costs for throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window.
Plaintiff’s complaint requested that the Circuit Court for the County of Macomb take superintending control over the 38th District Court, requiring Judge Carl F. Gerds III to refrain from imposing pay or stay sentences on indigent defendants who are unable to pay their court debt.
Over the course of six months in 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court Ability to Pay workgroup examined the issue of ability to pay and published a report with tools, best practices, and recommendations for judges and court staff around nonpayment incarceration.