Criminal justice debt: A modern-day debtors' prison

It is illegal to jail a person in the United States simply because he or she owes money. But Alabama has no set process for courts to determine if a defendant can afford to pay fees and fines. And despite a prohibition on “debtors’ prisons,” thousands of Alabamians are at risk of going to jail or are driven further into poverty because they can’t afford to pay costs attached to the criminal justice system.

This fact sheet by Arise policy analyst Carol Gundlach explains how soaring criminal justice debt hurts families and communities across Alabama and considers a range of possible solutions to this multifaceted problem.

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