Debtors’ Prison Returns to Florida

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillburning/46442359/

I understand the need for courts to enforce their orders, but when hard times mean that a state like Florida is throwing thousands of people into jail just for failing to pay fines of a couple hundred dollars, something ain’t right.

The problem, of course, is that state courts are strapped for cash along with everyone else. In many states, court fines are a major source of court funding.

As Rebekah Diller of the Brennan Center for Justice said:

“Judges . . . should not become “debt collectors in robes,” which she called both demeaning to the judges and humiliating for the people who must stand before them.

Plus, debtors’ prison seems a bit, well, medieval for a modern society. Prison does not exactly pay well, either. If the courts want people to pay their fines, locking them away from their income seems like a poor strategy.

Pinched Courts Push to Collect Fees and Fines | NY Times (via AFFIL blog)

(photo: Still Burning)