Some of New Orleans’ poorest residents are now working with lawyers in a class-action lawsuit against the local criminal district court. They are accusing judges and court officials of ripping them out of their money and unlawfully keeping them in jail for falling behind on exorbitant court fines.
The plaintiffs in the case are highlighting the courts’ failure to assess people’s ability to pay in assigned court fees. They are also pointing out that officials such as judges, prosecutors and public defenders unfairly benefit from the costs that are placed upon the city’s residents.
Experts explain that the exorbitant costs that New Orleanians are burdened with are used to fund the local criminal justice system, making up costs that aren’t covered in taxes. They go on to explain that such large charges towards New Orleanians brought to court for petty crimes like traffic violations and theft is unconstitutional, as these fees are often bigger than the actual criminal fine. Read more at the New York Times.
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