The Colorado Springs Municipal Court is violating federal and state law by jailing people who are too poor to pay court fines, alleges the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. Its investigation turned up more than 800 times where people have received what’s called a pay or serve sentence since January 2014.
"Once the government determines a fine is the appropriate sentence for an offense, it can’t convert that to jail simply because somebody is too poor to pay," the ACLU's Mark Silverstein said. "That results in a two-tiered system of justice where people with means can just write a check and poor people just go to jail."
The ACLU says people are given a $50 credit toward paying off a fine for each day they serve in jail. Colorado Springs says it doesn’t believe it’s violating the law and is reviewing the investigation’s findings.