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Forum Post: ACLU Report Exposes Debtors’ Prison Practices in Ohio : Welcome Back To the 1800's

Posted 1 year ago on April 11, 2013, 6:33 p.m. EST by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN
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Investigation into Eleven Ohio Counties finds that Seven are Illegally Jailing People for Inability to Pay Fines

April 4, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Constitution and Ohio state law prohibit courts from jailing people for being too poor to pay their legal fines, but in several Ohio counties, local courts are doing it anyway. The ACLU of Ohio today released The Outskirts of Hope, a report that chronicles a nearly yearlong investigation into Ohio’s debtors’ prisons and tells the stories of six Ohioans whose lives have been damaged by debtors’ prison practices.

“Being poor is not a crime in this country,” said Rachel Goodman, Staff Attorney at the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Incarcerating people who cannot afford to pay fines is both unconstitutional and cruel—it takes a tremendous toll on precisely those families already struggling the most.”

The law requires that courts hold hearings to determine defendants’ financial status before jailing them for failure to pay fines, and defendants must be provided with lawyers for these hearings. If a defendant cannot pay, the court must explore options other than jail.

“Supreme Court precedent and Ohio law make clear that local courts and jails should not function as debtors’ prisons,” said Carl Takei, Staff Attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project. “Yet many mayors’ courts and some municipal courts jail people without making any attempt whatsoever to determine whether they can afford to pay their fines.”

Beyond the questions of legality, debtors’ prison practices make no financial sense since courts routinely spend more to jail defendants than they would recover in fines.

“Not only are these courts violating the law, they are actually losing money doing it,” said ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner. “In every case we profiled for The Outskirts of Hope, the county spent more money than it collected to incarcerate people for failure to pay fines. In many cases, it spent more than the defendant owed in the first place.”

“These practices are legally prohibited, morally questionable, and financially unsound. Nevertheless, they appear to be alive and well in Ohio,” added Brickner. “It’s like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.”

In conjunction with the release of The Outskirts of Hope, the ACLU has sent letters to seven Ohio courts, calling for an immediate end to these illegal debtors’ prison practices. In response to a letter sent by the ACLU, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio expressed appreciation for the investigation and indicated interest in meeting to discuss the issue.

http://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/aclu-report-exposes-debtors-prison-practices-ohio

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[-] 1 points by elf3 (2720) 1 year ago

ACLU Exposes Technological Spying: Welcome to 1984

http://www.aclu.org/protecting-civil-liberties-digital-age

A constant stream of revolutionary new technologies erode existing protections, and greatly expanded powers for our security agencies allow the government to peer into our lives without due process or meaningful oversight. Our rights and liberties have undergone constant erosion since 9/11.

Ten years later, the websites we browse are tracked, our cell phones log our movements, our tweets are monitored by the FBI, our Internet communications being read and stored, and the NSA secretly wiretaps our calls. Things we once thought could only happen in far-away enemy states or distant dystopias are suddenly happening here in America. Sadly, it is no longer so hard to imagine a world straight out of the mind of Philip K. Dick, with personally-tailored advertisements that follow us online, or maybe even pre-crime predictors that turn us all into suspects when we haven’t done anything wrong.

Visit www.dotRights.org to find out more about how what you do online is (and isn’t) protected >>

The fact is, privacy laws have failed to keep up with emerging technologies. The goal of the Protecting Civil Liberties in the Digital Age initiative is to ensure that expressive, associational, and privacy rights are strengthened rather than compromised by new technology, and to protect these core democratic rights against intrusive corporate and government practices that rely on new technology to invade these rights.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Your support helps the ACLU defend civil liberties and the fundamental principles of our Constitution. GIVE NOW Additional Resources

Civil Liberties in the Digital Ages: Weekly Highlights (2011 blog) : Each week, we feature some of the most interesting news related to technology and civil liberties that we’ve spotted from the previous week.

Cell Phone Location Tracking Public Records Request (2011 feature): In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 34 ACLU affiliates are filing over 375 requests in 31 states across the country with local law enforcement agencies large and small that seek to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans.

Is Your Local Law Enforcement Tracking Your Cell Phone's Location? (2011 map)