Report: Muni Courts Jailing Poor People For Debts

Apr 4, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says several municipal courts are illegally and unconstitutionally jailing people because they're too poor to pay court-imposed debts.

The organization says its investigation show defendants are also being denied their right to a hearing to determine whether they're able to pay their fines. Its report says jailing people for debt pushes poor defendants farther into poverty and also costs counties more than the amount of the debt because of the cost of arresting and incarcerating individuals. The ACLU says some offenders are put behind bars for debts as small as a few hundred dollars. The report says municipal courts in Huron, Cuyahoga and Erie counties are among the worst offenders.