COLUMBUS — The American Civil Liberties Union says several small courts in Ohio are illegally and unconstitutionally jailing people because they’re too poor to pay court-imposed debts.
The ACLU’s Ohio chapter says an investigation found defendants are also being denied their right to a hearing to determine whether they’re financially able to pay their fines.
The ACLU’s report released Thursday says jailing people for debt pushes poor defendants farther into poverty and also costs counties more than the amount of the debt because of the cost of arresting and incarcerating individuals.
The report says municipal courts in Huron, Cuyahoga and Erie counties are among the worst offenders.
The ACLU says some offenders are put behind bars for debts as small as a few hundred dollars.