The Coastal Packet: Maine losing big by jailing people who don't pay fines

Tuesday, June 2

Maine losing big by jailing people who don't pay fines

Press Herald - Taxpayers in Maine are spending at least tens of thousands of dollars a year – and likely much more – to jail low-income defendants like Comeau who failed to pay the fines for what are often minor crimes, according to a study of Maine’s jails conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. In all of these cases, it costs taxpayers more to jail the defendants for unpaid fines or restitution than the inmates can earn in credit for each day they serve behind bars.

Nearly 10 percent of the inmates booked into the Cumberland County Jail between August 2013 and August 2014 were there solely on a warrant for failure to pay fines or restitution as ordered by the court. Of 10,674 booked during that period, 909 were arrested just for failing to pay court debts.

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