debtors prisons

ACLU of Ohio claims poor people being unlawfully jailed for failing to pay court fines

by James Ewinger, The Plain Dealer  |  published on April 7, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has called on the Ohio Supreme Court to end “debtors’ prisons,” where indigent people are unlawfully jailed because they cannot pay court fines.

You can read the full report in the document viewer below.
On Thursday, the ACLU released the results of its investigation that found seven courts across Ohio, including Parma Municipal Court, had disregarded the rights of indigent defendants, said Mike Brickner, director of communications and public policy for ACLU of Ohio.

The organization said the courts were not holding the required hearings to determine whether a person was indigent and that people who are indigent cannot legally be jailed for failure to pay their fines.

Brickner said the results of the ACLU study were shared with Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who has promised to meet with the group to discuss the findings.

The ACLU investigation was conducted in 2012 and early this year.

The recent investigation grew out of a report that the national ACLU issued in 2010. It was called “In for a Penny,” and profiled five states including Ohio.
Jocelyn Rosnick, a policy researcher and postgraduate legal fellow with the ACLU of Ohio, said the national report triggered complaints to the Ohio branch about abuses here, most notably in Huron County.

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