Gratitude. Then anger.

untitled-jpegWhenever my parents receive tickets — whether it is a speeding ticket, or a fine for going through tolls without paying because they didn’t have cash or an E-ZPass — they’ve been able to pay the fee immediately.

This was my second time watching “To Prison for Poverty,” and I felt a sense of gratitude, with anger quickly following. What if my parents fell under the category for not having money to pay fines immediately, which could lead to their incarceration—what then would my younger brother and I do?

Then I had another question….

Why not target people who can actually pay their fines in full rather than targeting people who cannot pay the initial fine?

When thinking more, although it is probably the most manipulative way to get money out of people, and it is clever. These “probation” companies are aware that these people will never be able to pay off their fines, so they keep charging them with additional fees to receive regular payments. The most upsetting aspect is the extreme and genuine efforts that go into trying to pay off debts.

It’s said that being poor has never been a crime in America, but it sure seems that way. It becomes even more interesting when you think of the “alleged” role of probation, which is to keep people out of prison. Private probation companies do just the opposite.

Judicial Correction Services says defendants should expect this: “While your probation officer will be happy to help you help yourself you still hold the ultimate responsibility for your success or failure.”

How can one hold the ultimate responsibility for their success of failure if initial fines can’t even be paid?

By Kendra Key

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