Even though Debtor Prisons are illegal in the United States, poor people are spending time in prison, behind bars for their debts.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that people in some states areimprisoned because they can’t afford to pay fees and fines. The U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that this practice is unconstitutional. It continues.
The people incarcerated in Corinth, Mississippi, have a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” We have another name for it: “debtors’ prison.”
Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has been clear that it’s unconstitutional to jail people simply because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.
But in states across the South — and across the country — that’s exactly what cash-strapped municipalities are doing.
Take Glenn Chastain. He owed $1,200 to the city of Corinth for expired vehicle tags. Because he missed a hearing, he was denied the chance to pay a partial fine. He spent 48 days in jail.
Jamie Tillman, without a lawyer, admitted to a public intoxication charge punishable by a…
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