Being Poor Can Land You In Jail

In Sojourners For Justice’s Action Alert, we are reminded that living in poverty has always been a struggle, but in Alabama being poor could land you in prison.

According to a recent story in The New York Times, rural Alabama resident Gina Ray was locked up for over a month because she could not pay fees and fines related to minor traffic offenses. [1] Speeding while being poor should not land someone in jail. These punishments simply do not fit the crime nor is this legal action in the “public good”. This type of use of legal system simply helps the companies that profit from people’s misery. With that said, please tell Alabama’s governor that the welfare of the citizens of his state must come before profits. Being poor should not be a crime.

It has been reported that Alabama, like many states, has made huge increases in the fees it levies on those caught up in its criminal justice system—even for minor traffic offenses. This troubling trend is compounded by the growing privatization of the criminal “justice system”; when poor citizens cannot pay the fines and fees that serve to significantly increase a private contractor’s bottom line, they often land in jail, where more fees are assessed. against the already indigent defendant.  One judge called the situation an appalling “extortion racket.” [2]

With that said, it is important to tell Alabama’s governor to call for legislation to end this immoral practice. As aptly stated by Sojourners For Justice, “Jesus proclaimed release for the captives. Scripture calls us to care about justice for the poor. Your assistance in this pressing matter is urgently needed.

Source(s): [1] “Poor Land in Jail as Companies Add Huge Fees for Probation,” The New York Times, July 2, 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/us/probation-fees-multiply-as-companies-profit.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[2] “Judge in Alabama Halts Private Probation,” The New York Times, July 13, 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/14/us/judge-in-alabama-halts-private-probation.html?_r=2

Photo Credit Microsoft Clip Art

 

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