People too poor to pay fines will no longer work off their debts by sitting in Colorado Springs jail cells, and the city will pay thousands to those who were wrongly locked up.
That’s thanks to the ACLU of Colorado, who in October accused Colorado’s second-largest city of running modern-day debtors prisons, a practice declared unconstitutional by the Colorado and United States Supreme Courts.
In Colorado Springs, it worked like this: When the court fined someone for violating a minor, non-jailable city ordinance, the court converted the fine into a jail sentence when the defendant didn’t pay.
The state’s ACLU chapter had spent a month or so investigating last year and found hundreds of cases where defendants had their fines converted to jail sentences; the majority of them were for non-jailable offenses.
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