Pendleton, Oregon (Wikimedia Commons)

Oregon city stops jailing poor who can’t pay court debts

Anglea Minthorn spent nearly two months in jail in 2017 for owing about $1,000

The eastern Oregon city of Pendleton has stopped jailing people unable to pay fines, a city official said, following the settlement of a federal lawsuit contending city officials were running a debtors’ prison.

The East Oregonian reports in a story on Saturday that city attorney Nancy Kerns said city court officials recently adopted new policies that ban the use of jail time for fines arising from minor violations.

READ MORE: ‘Double-bunking’ still a problem for B.C. provincial jails

“No person shall be incarcerated for the inability and lack of financial resources to pay financial obligations to the Court, including fines, costs and restitution,” the policy states.

The policy also requires the city court to consider defendants’ ability to pay and appoint attorneys to indigent defendants who face jail time.

Anglea Minthorn spent nearly two months in jail in 2017 for owing about $1,000.

She sued in early 2018, contending the city was violating the U.S. Constitution by incarcerating a debtor unable to pay the debt.

Minthorn’s “experience is not unique,” the lawsuit said. “It is a reflection of how defendants operate a modern-day debtors’ prison in which people who cannot afford to pay court-imposed fines arising out of minor violations are arrested, incarcerated, and fined further.”

The lawsuit described Minthorn as a low-income person with disabilities who struggled to get stable housing, medical care and food. The lawsuit said she was hospitalized for 74 days in 2016 because of stroke-like symptoms.

Minthorn did not contest a 2014 judgment against her and afine for $873. The lawsuit questioned why the amount of that fine later rose to $2,493 with no reason given.

Ultimately, the city settled with Minthorn in April, agreeing to pay her $130,000.

Minthorn received about $80,000. Legal Aid Services of Oregon, a non-profit civil legal program that provides access to legal help, received $45,000. Some $4,300 went to a trust to administer the settlement payments, and the city received $1,033 for Minthorn’s outstanding fines.

“This lawsuit should put all of Oregon on notice to take a look at their practices on this,” said Sarah Armstrong of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ellis Creek restoration comes with $30 million price tag for Penticton

Residents are able to provide feedback on the restoration plan until Nov. 1

City of Penticton weighs need for a manager of social development

Members of council are divided on whether the position is necessary

South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation close to attaining $20M fundraising goal

The medical foundation is $75,000 short of its goal to expand the Penticton Regional Hospital

Souperbowl Sunday is back for fifth year this weekend

Organizers say they are looking for a fourth chef to compete in round 2 on Oct. 27

100 Homes Penticton gets a new name after year of success

The campaign, run by the United Way South Okanagan, housed an additional 130 people in 2019

Election 2019: Tara Howse – Green Party candidate for South Okanagan–West Kootenay

Tara Howse is running for the Green Party in the South Okanagan–West Kootenay riding

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

Sad time for City of Salmon Arm gardeners as more than 300 hanging baskets come down

Municipal crews busy preparing for change of season as flowers die off

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Illegal buoys to be removed from Shuswap, Mara lakes

Transport Canada enforcement action to occur Oct. 21 to 25

Port Moody mayor goes back on unpaid leave during sex assault investigation

Rob Vagramov said he intends to return as mayor in three or four weeks

UBC issues statement after instructor tells students to vote for Liberal Party

University says partisan messaging was not intentional

Most Read