Report: Debtor Prisons on the Rise

October 05, 2010
Headlines

New reports by the ACLU and the Brennan Center for Justice have found a sharp rise in debtor prisons across the country. Poor defendants are being jailed for failing to pay legal debts. In Ohio, a man named Howard Webb, who earns $7 an hour as a dishwasher, has served two stints in jail totaling over 300 days for being unable to pay nearly $3,000 in fines and costs from various criminal and traffic cases. In Michigan, a twenty-five-year-old single mother named Kawana Young has been jailed five times for being unable to afford to pay a few minor traffic tickets. Eric Balaban of the ACLU said, "Incarcerating people simply because they cannot afford to pay their legal debts is not only unconstitutional but also has a devastating impact upon men and women, whose only crime is that they are poor."