07:52 GMT +307 December 2019
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    Town Running Illegal Debtor’s Prison Will Pay Victims Back – With Interest

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    Colorado City will pay back those that were illegally jailed in a debtors prison, with interest, thanks to a settlement agreement reached with the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The city’s debtor-prison policy, which was found in violation of both the Constitution and Colorado state law, has been discontinued. The “pay or serve” policy meant that people who could not pay their fines for non-criminal offenses, such as panhandling, were imprisoned for one day for every $50 that they owed.

    “Three quarters of the time, the people jailed for being broke had been brought to court for an offense that carries no jail time under the relevant statute. Yet jailed they were, as the city treated poverty as a criminal offense,” Think Progress explained.

    Under the settlement, 66 pay-or-serve victims will be paid $125 for each day they were illegally jailed.

    One man included in the settlement was Shawn Hardman, a homeless man imprisoned for 90 days under the program. He will receive $11,000 from the city, Think Progress reports.

    "I was told over and over that I either had to pay or go back to jail," Hardman said in a statement. "Without a home or a job, the cycle kept repeating."

    Approximately ¾ of the people who were jailed under the pay or serve program had been fined for non-jailable offenses, indicating that they were jailed for simply being poor.


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