One trend occurring in prisons around the country involves courts receiving revenue from the fining of those who have committed minor offenses. For those in poverty-stricken neighborhoods or cities, the results can be devastating as they end up in prison after not being able to pay these mounting fines. Last week, the New York Times published an editorial that explored a Justice Department motion in Ferguson, MO, a town that was put in the national spotlight in the wake of the Michael Brown case in 2014. The department said “state and local courts have an obligation to inquire about a person’s ability to pay fines and fees before jailing them for nonpayment.” The Supreme Court has also dealt with such perceived “unconstitutional” issues that violate the 14th Amendment. The Ferguson plan hopes to secure measures that will help find better alternatives to imprisonment for someone’s inability to pay hefty fines related to minor offenses.
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