The Benton County commissioners were right to stop the practice of sending people who can’t pay court fines to jail or work crew. Ending debtors’ prisons is progress. We simply should not be sending people to jail because they lack the money to pay off court debts.
However, in a Dec. 10 editorial, the Herald suggested that as a result, those who owe court fees will end up the victim of ruthless collection agencies. That’s simply not true.
Collection agencies are far from the only way of handling repayment. Judges, who oversee court fees, could choose from a number of alternatives to collection agencies, such as giving credit for job training or community service. And even if the county does opt to use the services of a collection agency, they would do so under a contract, the terms of which — like all contracts — are negotiable.
To suggest that it is “more practical” to lock poor people up is degrading. Though the Herald may deem it more convenient, no one is better off when they are deprived of their freedom.
Alicia Briones, West Richland