WA ACLU Study Criticizes Expansion of ‘Debtors’ Prisons’


A new report takes a close look at the emergence of modern-day “debtors’ prisons” in Washington State, reports the Huffington Post. People in the state often are jailed when they can't afford to pay fines and legal fees issued by county courts, says the report by the ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services. In Benton County, the problem is particularly severe. The report says about one-fifth of that county’s jail population is locked up over unpaid legal charges.

In recent years, local governments throughout the United States have locked up growing numbers of people for failing to pay their legal debts. The ACLU and the Brennan Center for Justice released a pair of reports on the practice in 2010. The new report suggests that legislators should ban the practice of jailing someone simply because they cannot meet a legal financial obligation.

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