Court updates Michigan rules to curb pay-or-stay sentences

May 26, 2016

DETROIT – The Michigan Supreme Court has announced amendments to state rules aimed at keeping people from jail time because they can't pay court fines or fees.

The Detroit News reports changes announced Wednesday take effect Sept. 1. The court says job status, available cash, basic living expenses and other special circumstances can be considered.

Earlier this year, a Detroit-area judge accused of sending poor people to jail if they couldn't immediately pay fines agreed to end so-called pay-or-stay sentences after an American Civil Liberties Union challenge.

The ACLU of Michigan says there's no dispute that sending someone to jail without checking ability to pay is unconstitutional. Nonetheless, it still has occurred in courts around the state.

The state's high court earlier accepted public comment on proposed changes to strengthen the ban.