The Law School’s MacArthur Justice Center has brought to an end a system in the Mississippi state capital of jailing people who can’t pay court fines. The Center’s lawsuit, filed with the civil rights group Equal Justice Under Law, was settled Monday.
The City of Jackson has agreed to give indigent defendants the choice of paying off their fines at the rate of $25 per month or performing community service and receiving credit toward their unpaid fines at the rate of $9 per hour.
Professor Cliff Johnson, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center, praised the City’s response. “We applaud Mayor Yarber, the City Council, and the City Attorney’s Office for taking seriously the allegations in our lawsuit and the realities facing so many Jacksonians who struggle mightily just to make ends meet.”
“The processes and procedures adopted by the Capital City pursuant to our agreement are a model for the rest of the state,” Johnson added, “and it is our hope that cities and counties throughout Mississippi will adopt these same practices.”
The settlement and the City’s reforms have been widely covered in the media, including the Washington Times.