Is jail time for ticket scofflaws best use of taxpayer dollars?

Jun 9, 2017
Originally published on June 8, 2017 4:17 pm

It's called "pay or stay:" jailing people who can't afford to pay a fine.

It's a controversial issue nationwide. Critics say pay or stay sentencing has created a 21st-century version of debtors' prisons.

In May of 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court announced rule changes designed to keep people out of jail just because they cannot pay court fines. But a Bridge Magazine investigation finds that's exactly what's happening in the weekly collections docket at the 36th District Court in Detroit.

Journalist Sarah Alvarez wrote the article and joined Stateside to talk about what she found about the inner workings of the 36th District Court.

Listen to the full interview above to hear how Detroit's bankruptcy contributed to this problem and how much of a burden it is on taxpayers to keep people in jail for not paying fines.

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunesGoogle Play, or with this RSS link)

Copyright 2017 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.