Can’t Pay Your Speeding Ticket? Go To Jail
Cash-strapped local governments are raising fines for minor offenses, farming out the collection work to private contractors, and sending increasing numbers of poor people to jail for non-payment:
“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” said John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga., who is taking the issue to a federal appeals court this fall. “There are things like garbage collection where private companies are O.K. No one’s liberty is affected. The closer you get to locking someone up, the closer you get to a constitutional issue.” [NYT]
The Supreme Court ruled half a century ago that it is unconstitutional to lock people up for civil offenses because there's no right to counsel in a civil case.