Faced with statistics showing that arrests for nonpayment cost far more than they bring in, [Rhode Island] passed a law in August granting judges latitude to waive court debts for poor defendants.
Florida, however, has continued to tighten its grip. Since 2004, the Legislature has required courts to support their operating expenses substantially, through fees collected by county clerks. Some of the clerks use collection agents, while about a third use the Collections Courts, state officials said. Here in Leon County alone, 839 people were arrested and jailed in the year ended last September over court debts or failure to appear at Collections Court, according to a study by the Brennan Center. Other Florida counties have less stringent policies. (NYTimes)