Most Americans probably wouldn't believe that they could be thrown in jail simply for not being able to afford to pay a fine. After all, debtor's prisons were outlawed in the United States in the 1830's. But a PBS NewsHour Weekend investigation found that in Alabama alone, an estimated 1,000 people are going to jail every month for that very reason. And it's a practice that is now happening across the country. PBS NewsHour Weekend conducted a 6 month investigation into Judicial Corrections Services, a company hired by cities across Alabama, to collect fines owed. Judicial Correction Services' pitch to these cities was simple: we'll collect fines owed at no cost to city coffers. The catch, though, is that JCS will charge the “offender” a monthly fee until the debt is fully paid off. The cost is passed on to the “offender”, who often times can't even afford to pay the initial fine, let alone the added fees.
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