Jailing defendants for failure to pay court fines criticized

BOSTON (AP) — A practice by Massachusetts district court judges of jailing defendants solely for their failure to pay court fines or fees is drawing scrutiny from state lawmakers.

A report released Monday identified 105 instances when defendants were jailed for so-called “fine time” in 2015 in three Massachusetts counties. The report says that in 60 percent of those cases, the defendant had at some point been identified as indigent.

Some of the common costs imposed on defendants include: a fee for a court-appointed lawyer, a fine if a defendant is found guilty of the underlying crime, and a monthly supervision fee if a defendant is put on probation.

State Sen. Mike Barrett says the state needs to lower the charges and come up with alternative sources of revenue for courts and corrections.

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