New Orleans Debtor's Prison Case Heads to Federal Court
For New Orleans and a few other cities around the U.S., federal judges will decide their fate in debtor's prison suits brought against them.
NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge has ruled a case must be heard against New Orleans criminal court judges, sheriff’s office and city government that were allegedly involved in a debt-to-prison pipeline stretching back several years.
The “debtor’s prison,” as it has become known, has earned that nickname by repeatedly using jail as a threat to the impoverished to pay their court fees, according to the plaintiffs.
U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance ruled that the city of New Orleans will have its day in federal court, and ignored attempts by the defendants to throw the case out.
“The general policy in federal courts (is) to give plaintiffs the benefit of a chance to prove their case; it is not at all surprising that this case will move forward,” Marjorie Esman, the director of ACLU Louisiana, told the Louisiana Record.
Several other U.S. cities are headed to Federal court or entering into victim settlements:
Ferguson, Mo. -The Atlantic
Jackson, Miss. -Jackson Free Press
Colorado Springs, Colo. -Huffington Post
El Paso, Texas. -The Dallas Morning News
Austin, Texas -Austin American-Statesman