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NPR Investigation: Debtors Prisons Can Still Be Found

Tom Barrett returned to the convenience store where he stole a can of beer. He spent time in jail, not for the crime, but because he couldn't afford the fines and fees that went along with wearing an electronic monitoring device.(Joseph Shapiro/NPR)
Tom Barrett returned to the convenience store where he stole a can of beer. He spent time in jail, not for the crime, but because he couldn't afford the fines and fees that went along with wearing an electronic monitoring device.(Joseph Shapiro/NPR)

Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear: judges can’t send someone to jail because they’re too poor to pay their court fines. That would be debtors prison, and those were outlawed in the United States back before the Civil War.

But an NPR state-by-state survey found that people are still being sent to jail for unpaid fines and fees. This is an encore presentation of a report filed by NPR’s  Joseph Shapiro earlier this year.

Guest

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