Lawsuit: Court illegally jails people who can't pay fines

AP News
Posted: Oct 13, 2015 8:29 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Seven people say in a lawsuit that the municipal court in Mississippi's capital city illegally jailed them because they couldn't pay court fines.

The federal lawsuit against Jackson, spearheaded by two nonprofit legal groups, is a prong in a nationwide fight over how poor people should be treated by the criminal justice system. Similar suits have been filed in Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri.

All of the plaintiffs owed at least $1,200 in fines and fees. The lawyers said none had a job or any significant assets when they were arrested. All faced orders to pay at least 65 percent of fines immediately or be jailed.

The city released a statement saying it had been talking to the lawyers about their concerns, but will now "vigorously defend against these unfounded claims."