Harpersville accused of taking advantage of the poor - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Harpersville accused of taking advantage of the poor

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A lawsuit alleges Hapersville is incarcerating motorists for failing to pay fines and court costs even if they are indigent.

"The United States Supreme Court ruled you cannot incarcerate anyone for failure to pay fines and court costs if they are indigent, " said plaintiff attorney Jim Pino

The four plaintiffs say the Shelby County town does not hold hearings to determine if drivers have the means to reasonably pay the tickets.

"Well, it's obviously motivated by money," said Pino
 
Harpersville's attorney Donald Scott says the town is fighting the lawsuit vigorously.
 
"We believe we have meritorious defenses to the claims of the plaintiff," said Scott.
 
The town shares revenue with a private company called Judicial Corrections Services. A company hired to go after people who don't pay their tickets.
 
"Which performs a function, supposedly, of monitoring the probationary person ability to pay fines and court cost, but what  they are doing is acting as bill collectors with the ability to threaten incarceration if you don't pay," said Pino.
 
Because Harpersville does not have its own jail, violators are housed at the Shelby County Jail.  That costs Harpersville, but Pino say that cost is passed on to the indigent inmates.
 
"You go into the hole each month. It amounts to an indefinite jail sentence or what we like to call debtors prison, " said Pino