Money shoukd not determine whether someone is allowed to walk free or not. Jail should be reserved for those who are a serious threat to others. We should not be so comfortable locking human beings in cages for offenses that are non-violent and or non-threatening. And that's all I have to say about that.
While state courts do operate independently of the Justice Department, violating federal law to impose these sentences really brings into question the intentions of these local state courts. To jail defendants who are unable to pay fees or fines because of their economic status is unlawful and potentially damaging to the community as a whole. I think that this practice could lead to creating even more difficulties for citizens in the areas of debt and unemployment.
In my opinion, the Justice department is correct for not wanting to jail defendants who cannot pay certain fees or debts. First and foremost, this can be handled by sending these defendants to companies who can help them consolidate their debts and be able to pay it off monthly. Jailing these defendants is also keeping them away from their workplaces which docks off a day's pay and concurs a possibility of losing their job which will further put them in debt. Help the defendants learn to manage their debt and put them on a plan to eliminate the debt.
The Justice Department rightly discourages jailing people because of delinquent fees. People who cannot afford fines can be caught in a cycle when they lose income because of jail time. Garnishment of wages could be an effective way of ensuring fines are paid. Additionally, the cost of jailing people over fines is an irresponsible use of tax dollars.
State courts should jail defendants who don't pay fees. On what level does it make any sense to exempt defendant's from jail time if they don't pay what they are required to pay? In the real world, if I don't pay taxes or fees I am subject to penalties, fines and potential jail time. No special treatment should be given to defendants just because it is in court.