State Senate investigates “Fine Time”

Press Release

BOSTON — The State Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight has completed a first-of-its-kind investigation of “fine time” in Massachusetts — the practice by district court judges of incarcerating defendants solely for failure to pay fines, fees or court costs.

State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Chair of the Committee, called the findings “eye-opening.”  He and Committee staff identified 105 instances of fine time in 2015 in just three Massachusetts counties — Essex, Plymouth and Worcester.  In 60% of the cases, the defendant had at some point been verified as indigent; ten were described as unemployed; five, as homeless.  Yet all 105 individuals were imprisoned for failure to pay fees and fines.

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