The federal Department of Justice sent a letter to state court systems stating that judges should consider alternatives to jail for poor defendants who do not have the ability to pay. It also states that judges should establish that failure to pay was willful before putting defendants in jail.
The DOJ recently issued a new set of recommendations to state and local legislators and judges recommending broad reforms to the imposition of monetary sanctions and consequences for non-payment. In particular, they reinforce the unconstitutionality of incarcerating individuals for non-payment of fines and fees when they are unable to pay. Principal Investigator Alexes Harris was part of the White House convening that helped inform DOJ on monetary sanctioning practices around the country.