"Alabama courts have turned justice on its head by handing poor people who can't afford to pay a fine over to private probation companies, where even more fees are added to the already unaffordable debt," said Lisa Borden, the pro bono partner at Birmingham's Baker Donelson law firm.
For instance, one Alabamian's $179 speeding ticket mushroomed into $1500 worth of fines.
After this woman failed to pay the fines, the city jailed her
on three occasions for a total of 40 days of jail time.
owed $3,170 to the private company.
, who advocates on behalf of low-income clients, said, "Even those avoiding jail sentences can suffer dramatic consequences, losing jobs and homes as a result of suspended driver's licenses and unjust arrest warrants."
"Fortunately, the tide may be turning," Borden