Debtor’s prison

An astute reader sent us a link to an El Diario article.

The article tells us that the city is being sued by the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The problem?

Evidently our city put 34,000 people in jail last year because they could not pay 25% of their traffic fine.

The article gives the example of a mother of two children who spent ten days in jail last year because of her inability to pay her traffic fine.

The city is evidently required to provide options before jailing someone.

For my part, if I ignore the violation of our Constitution, I wonder about the cost of this practice.

For the Spanish challenged here is a link to the page through google translate:

Mouse over the text to get the original Spanish.

We deserve better


8 Responses to Debtor’s prison

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love the part about unreliable public transportation in the articles that are linked. How much are we paying for Sun Metro upgrades? As someone who has had to pay for damage caused by an uninsured driver I don’t have any sympathy for the folks profiled in the articles. Take the bus or figure out a carpool with a co-worker. If the bus takes longer or you have to take an earlier bus to be sure to make connections, leave earlier. While I agree our judges should follow the law in offering alternatives, with the lack of follow through on commitments that is common with folks here who pick and choose the laws they obey, I can understand why they see go to jail as the best lesson teaching option.


  2. will says:

    sounds like the ones who cant pay and shouldnt be driving are the sames on who are here illegally and shouldnt have to go back.


  3. Tired of It All says:

    I’ve read this before, if not in EPTimes, then in another publication. The story is not new. The Texas Civil Rights Project is an ACLU organization originally based in the Rio Grande Valley and founded for the benefit / to assist a non-English speaking population.

    I agree with Sgt. Friday. Too many El Pasoans think they can ignore traffic tickets and other minor violations. If you cannot pay the ticket, you should not be driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right. However, it would be more productive if those who could not pay a fine were put to work in order to pay off the fine.


  4. Sgt. Joe Friday says:

    If you’ve ever seen the thousands upon thousands of outstanding warrants printed annually in the newspaper and requiring an entire special section thicker than the Sunday paper, then you know that we have lots of people who think that they can break the law without being held accountable. Too many people in our community have an unsually high disregard for the most basic laws and ordinances because they believe they will not be held accountable.


    • ManintheMoon says:

      Ok we can agree it’s not right but the judges also know they are breaking constitutional law so should we also hold them criminal libel also.If they claim they do not know then they are incompetent and should be remover from the bench. Seems if the intent of your post is that the law should apply equally to all then should the judges also be held accountable for their violation of the law? Seems fair!


  5. Deputy Dawg says:

    Here is a nice article from BuzzFeed that summarizes what municipalities in Texas shoudl do to handle people that cannot pay because they are too poor. And it is very El Paso-specific.


  6. Deputy Dawg says:

    Maybe the issue here is not that people should pay their fines if they break the law (they should), but the city not following the law by providing alternatives to the people that cannot pay. The city is not following the law, so now it is getting sued. And it will lose because they have no grounds.

    Who in the city is responsible for making sure that there are alternatives to debtor’s prison (which is illegal by the way both by Texas and Federal law). Now the city is having to go to court, probably pay some kind of fine (because we cannot send a city to debtor’s prison) simply because we didnt know the law. Your tax dollars at work.


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