No jail time for misdemeanor fines in Jackson - - Jackson, MS

No jail time for misdemeanor fines in Jackson

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Big changes are coming for those who owe fines in the city of Jackson - thanks to a federal lawsuit.  

Poverty stricken people will no longer have to serve time if they don't have the cash to pay their fines.

The City of Jackson has agreed on new options to get them what's owed to them.

“As far as going to jail, that's not a place everybody should be at,” said a Jackson Resident.

Jackson officials settled a federal class-action lawsuit that finally ends the practice of jailing indigent or poor people who can’t pay the money they owe in misdemeanor cases.

Equal Justice Under Law, a not-profit group, and the University of Mississippi School of Law's MacArthur Justice Center, filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven Jackson residents who were fed up after they were ordered to serve time behind bars because they couldn't pay.

“Sometimes you can have a job and you can lose your job and that's when hardships come,” said another Jackson resident.

Instead, poor defendants in misdemeanor cases now have the option of paying fines monthly or through community service.

“I would think do community service, because it is better than your fine adding up, so just work it off,” said a Jackson resident.

This agreement is also part of a crackdown on the pay or stay system that sends hundreds of poverty stricken people to jail.

“You need to do jail time, pay your fines off and get right with this system,” said Jackson resident who doesn’t agree with the changes.

Not everyone is in favor of the new options instead of jail time.

“I think if the law finds you are guilty, you are guilty and we need to enforce or laws,” said another resident, not in favor of change.

“It's robbing and killing out here they don't get people for, so I think they should go to jail,” said a Jackson resident.

Jackson’s Mayor Tony Yarber sent this statement regarding the agreement:

“The City of Jackson is committed to fair treatment of all of its citizens. The leadership acknowledges the need to protect citizens from crime using all resources available, while not imposing jail time on citizens solely based on their inability to pay fines related to misdemeanor crimes.  It is a constitutional balance. Please know that no crime will go unpunished. All misdemeanors will be strictly enforced, and fines indeed will be paid.  This settlement protects the indigent with an inability to pay their fines, which will be determined during court proceedings. The settlement also is reflective of changing policies across the nation. The City of Jackson remains committed to prosecuting all crime within its boundaries to the highest degree. It's a new day in the City of Jackson."

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