House Votes to End Jail Time for Those Too Poor to Pay...

House Votes to End Jail Time for Those Too Poor to Pay Fines in Texas

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Texas legislators in the House have just voted in favor of allowing poorer residents to pay off traffic tickets in methods other than money.

Low-income Texans are often punished for not paying their traffic tickets on time, resulting in more fines and punishments that usually only push them further into debt. Sometimes, these mounting fines and punishment result in jail time.

Now, however, state judges can ask defendants being tried for overdue fines about whether they have the funds to pay off such fees. If the individual seems reasonable in their defense, then the judge can either offer an alternative exchange – like community service – or they can reduce or waive the fee altogether.

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This bill still needs to be approved by the Senate before being passed to Gov. Greg Abbot. If it passes, however, the legislation would likely prevent thousands of Texans from being imprisoned over simple fines, while also saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

“They’re not getting off scot-free. We’re getting something for something,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, according to the Texas Tribune. “We are filling our jails up with people who should not be there.”

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