ALCU Lawsuit: Wheat Ridge Jailed Homeless Man

August 27, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is accusing a Wheat Ridge judge of violating state law by jailing a homeless man for an unpaid fine.

According to the ACLU motion, the man spent three days in jail for contempt of court, despite telling the judge he was destitute and could not pay his panhandling ticket.

The ACLU says it appears that Wheat Ridge is among many cities that still jail poor people for unpaid fines, despite a new state law blocking the practice.

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thorton, authored the policy and is frustrated by the ACLU’s findings.

"That’s ridiculous because we made our intent absolutely known to the courts: Stop throwing indigent people in jail for inability to pay a court fine or cost," Salazar said.

Salazar said he may try to strengthen the law during the next legislative session to close any possible loopholes. The city of Wheat Ridge says it does not comment on pending legal matters.