A new law could alleviate hardship for those thrown into debt—or jail—because of mounting fines. But does it go far enough?
“Debtors’ prisons were outlawed nationally in 1833, but their essential function nevertheless persists in states across the country, and penalties are imposed for crimes large and small. In Texas last year, 95 percent of warrants stemmed from outstanding fines. Also in 2016, the state jailed 640,000 people who couldn’t pay their debts for minor, ostensibly fine-only offenses—like public intoxication, missing a stop sign while driving, or letting a dog run loose where it’s supposed to be leashed.”