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pay or stay

Brian Turner / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's called "pay or stay:" jailing people who can't afford to pay a fine.

It's a controversial issue nationwide. Critics say pay or stay sentencing has created a 21st-century version of debtors' prisons.

In May of 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court announced rule changes designed to keep people out of jail just because they cannot pay court fines. But a Bridge Magazine investigation finds that's exactly what's happening in the weekly collections docket at the 36th District Court in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is proposing a rule that would strengthen the ban on sending poor people to jail if they can't afford to pay fines.

Some District Court judges continue to order so-called pay-or-stay sentences, although the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in the 1980s.

The proposed rule says a judge cannot send someone to jail for failing to pay a fine unless the defendant can afford it without significant hardship. Judges could come up with a payment plan or waive all or part of the money owed.

A Macomb County judge found himself at the center of a court hearing Monday.

Eastpointe district judge Carl Gerds III has come under scrutiny for sentencing defendants to jail time for failing to pay fines stemming from civil infractions.

Two of the better-known cases to come out of Gerds’ court include a woman who faced jail time for failing to pay dog licensing fines, and a man who did jail time for failing to pay $1500 worth of traffic tickets.

via 38th District Court

A low-income Metro Detroit woman who faced jail time over dog license fees got help from a higher court this week.

The Macomb County Circuit Court stepped in to stop an Eastpointe judge from sentencing Donna Anderson.

Anderson told 38th District Court Judge Carl Gerds she couldn’t afford the $455 in licensing costs and court fees.