DETROIT (AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court is proposing a rule that would strengthen the ban on sending poor people to jail if they can’t afford to pay fines.
Some District Court judges continue to order so-called pay-or-stay sentences, although the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in the 1980s.
The proposed rule says a judge cannot send someone to jail for failing to pay a fine unless the defendant can afford it without significant hardship. Judges could come up with a payment plan or waive all or part of the money owed.
Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he’s “thrilled.”
A Detroit suburb, Hazel Park, opposes the rule. City officials say money could be hidden.