We applaud 4th Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain’s decision to end the practice of El Paso County holding released inmates who can’t pay a $55 release fee. The move came after the ACLU of Colorado filed a federal civil rights claim on behalf of Jasmine Still, a Colorado Springs woman who spent 27 days in jail after a judge approved her release but she couldn’t pay the county’s Pretrial Services’ $55 release fee.
This same fee has kept up to 300 people – many accused of nonviolent crimes – in jail in the past year, the ACLU charged in its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver. Some inmates were held for weeks and even months, the group alleged.
No one should be indefinitely imprisoned for the inability to pay a $55 fee.
Poverty is not a crime. We should not take any person’s freedom for $55, not to mention the fact it costs much more than $55 to keep a person in jail for even one extra day.
This practice also makes no sense especially when problems with jail crowding have plagued the county for several years.