NY Times: Probation Fees Rise, Firms Profit and the Poor Go to Jail
Disturbing national trend on the increasingly common practice of sourcing misdemeanor fines to private firms for collection.
As municipality and state budgets are stretched thin, they’ve been turning to collections agencies to collect fines. These agencies tack on their own fees to those charged with offenses, digging them deeper into debt.
“With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice,” said Lisa W. Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a large law firm in Birmingham, Ala., who has spent a great deal of time on the issue. “The companies they hire are aggressive. Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail. There are real constitutional issues at stake.”
(via J. Sharpe James)