Ohio Courts Create Debtors’ Prisons By Jailing the Poor, ACLU Charges


Ohio courts are illegally jailing people because they are too poor to pay their debts and often deny defendants a hearing to determine if they’re financially capable of paying what they owe, says the American Civil Liberties Union. The Associated Press reports that the ACLU likens the problem to modern-day debtors’ prisons. Jailing people for debt pushes poor defendants farther into poverty and costs counties more than the actual debt because of the cost of arresting and incarcerating individuals, the group said. “The use of debtors’ prison is an outdated and destructive practice that has wreaked havoc upon the lives of those profiled in this report and thousands of others throughout Ohio,” the report said. Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the issue “can and must receive further attention.” The ACLU says courts in Huron, Cuyahoga, and Erie counties are among the worst offenders.

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