Judge: Courts Can’t Jail People for Fines without Chance to Plead Poverty

(From UPI)

A federal judge in New Orleans on Friday said it is unconstitutional to incarcerate people who owe fines due to criminal convictions without giving them a chance to plead poverty in a “neutral forum.”

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance [Eastern District of Louisiana] gives a definitive answer to the constitutionality of “debtors’ prison” in New Orleans, which had been the subject of a three-year lawsuit filed against 13 Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judges by people who had been jailed for outstanding fines, The New Orleans Advocate reported.

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