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Part II lays out the debtors’ prison scheme, from the causes to the consequences on individuals, and explains why the lack of definition of an individual’s “ability to pay” reinforces the racial disparity of the scheme. 521, 530, 547 (2013) (highlighting the constitutional conflict of interest for judges who are supposed to remain impartial but yet are incentivized to raise money for court operations). City of New Orleans, note 2; Class Action Complaint, Bell v. Part III demonstrates that the debtors’ prison scheme functions as a form of racialized social control similar to the War on Drugs, using Michelle Alexander’s analysis in The New Jim Crow.
For that, state courts and legislatures will ultimately have to clarify the substantive definition of indigence for these purposes.” Indeed, in October 2015, the ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to another municipality in Colorado—Colorado Springs—that was jailing “hundreds of people because they were too poor to pay court-ordered fines and fees,” violating the Colorado law that was passed in 2014.
It also required that courts assess an individual’s “ability to pay” in a hearing before incarcerating the individual for failure to pay debts to the state. Finally, it mandated that courts provide notice and a hearing, as well as make “findings on the record” that the defendant can pay “without undue hardship to the defendant or the defendant’s dependents” and that “the defendant has not made a good faith effort to comply with the order.” In short, Colorado’s new law merely restates existing law, including .
Interestingly enough, all three municipalities have large Hispanic or Latino/a communities. Hickenlooper signed House Bill 14-101 into law in May 2014. This new law “expanded coverage from fines to any ‘monetary amount’ imposed by sentencing,” which is an important distinction as court costs and fees constitute much of criminal justice debt.
12, 2014), https:// First Amended Class Action Complaint, Mitchell v.
While reform laws can be added on the books, their enforcement is distorted, particularly once advocates stop monitoring.
Though officially deemed unconstitutional, the debtors’ prison scheme consists of jailing low-income individuals for not being able to pay their legal financial obligations (“LFOs”), also known as criminal justice debt. Though many of the lawsuits filed did not explicitly mention race, most of them were filed in jurisdictions with large communities of color.