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Tag: fines

Justice Department Warns Courts to Stop Targeting Poor People for Money

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Monday urged state judges nationwide to end unconstitutional policies of jailing low-income people as a way to collect fines and debt.

The letter to chief judges and court administrators said courthouses are not money-making ventures and should not use arrest warrants to collect fees, the New York Times reports. 

The practice of locking poor people up creates a cycle of fines, debt and jail, the letter said.

“This unconstitutional practice is often framed as a routine administrative matter,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, wrote. “For example, a motorist who is arrested for driving with a suspended license may be told that the penalty for the citation is $300 and that a court date will be scheduled only upon the completion of a $300 payment.”

Some courts lock people up on minor offenses and won’t release the defendants until their fines are paid.

“When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor,” Lynch said at the White House in December. “Not because they’re a danger or a flight risk — only because they are poor. They don’t have money to get out of jail, and they certainly don’t have money to flee anywhere. Other people who do have the means can avoid the system setting inequality in place from the beginning.”

Justice Dept. Collects Only a Teeny Fraction of Swindlers’ Fines

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Since the year 2000, the government has only collected about two cents on the dollar from hundreds of the nation’s biggest swindlers who were fined by federal judges, USA Today reports.

A USA Today reported that its analysis of Justice Department records shows the difficulty of the Justice Department collecting fines from scam artists who profited from the housing and financial crises.

“A vast number of these cases … there will never be any money collected,” Ray Hassett, a Connecticut lawyer who used to supervise collection efforts for the U.S. attorney’s office there said, according to USA Today.

The paper examined 258 cases since 2000 in which judges ordered a criminal to pay $25 million in fines or more. Some some thieves paid what amounted to less than a speeding ticket, USA Today reported.

The paper reported that the biggest judgments totaled about $30 billion, the Justice Department has only collected about $660 million so far.

To read more click here.