Louisiana’s Bogalusa City Court has agreed to issue $50 refunds to settle part of a federal lawsuit that describes how the court and a city judge operated a modern-day debtors’ prison by illegally jailing indigent people too poor to pay fines and court costs, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced today.
The court will issue a refund to people who, within the last two years, paid a $50 “extension fee” to receive more time to pay fines and court costs. The refund will be given to anyone who paid the fee on or after June 21, 2015, and completes a claim form by the city’s deadline. It’s estimated that 100 people could be eligible.
The SPLC filed the lawsuit in June 2016.
“We’re pleased the Bogalusa City Court will return money to people entangled in this harmful practice,” said Sam Brooke, SPLC deputy legal director. “Nobody should be jailed or threatened with jail if they are too poor to pay a fine. This agreement is an important step forward, but a small step. The rest of our case will go forward because we believe serious unconstitutional practices are likely to continue in the court.”
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Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)