Monthly Archives: June 2014

Harris Op-Ed: Yes, America, we have returned to debtor’s prisons

When people are convicted of crimes, we know that they are sentenced to time in jail or prison, to perform community service, and sometimes to undertake drug or alcohol treatment. But they are also routinely sentenced to legal debt. Beyond just fines or restitution, defendants in some jurisdictions are required to pay for costs related to their public defender, DNA collection, jury, court paperwork, room and board in prison, electronic monitoring, probation, even for collection of the debt itself. They are, in essence, charged “pay as you go” fees for their use of the criminal justice system.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times

Discussion on poverty and monetary sanctions

The poor are increasingly sent to jail not for crimes, but for failing to pay increased court fees. These charges are often for services that were once free and some are constitutionally required. The threat of “pay or stay in jail” has gone too far. ┬áProfessor Harris joined Huffpost Live to discuss the impact of monetary sanctions on the poor along with national reporters and advocates.