by Johanna Schmidt
Long lasting principles in the American criminal justice system require that it be sensitive to the needs and treatment of people who are indigent. This sensitivity encompasses all aspects of trials, including access to counsel on direct appeal, transcripts, and court records.
Most importantly, the Supreme Court has continually affirmed that people who are indigent must be fined differently from their wealthy peers. In Tate v. Short, the Court held that “the Constitution prohibits the State from imposing a fine as a sentence and then automatically converting it into a jail term solely because the defendant is indigent and cannot forthwith pay the fine in full.” Continue reading