This is a very disturbing trend that only heaps more injustice into our already inJustice system. I've been finding lots of stories about this issue in the last few days. Here's an excerpt from the ACLU article. You can read the whole thing and download the report here.
This ACLU report presents the results of a yearlong investigation into modern-day "debtors' prisons," and shows that poor defendants are being jailed at increasingly alarming rates for failing to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford. The report details how across the country, in the face of mounting budget deficits, states are more aggressively going after poor people who have already served their criminal sentences. These modern-day debtors' prisons impose devastating human costs, waste taxpayer money and resources, undermine our criminal justice system, are racially skewed, and create a two-tiered system of justice.
Also see these links:
Debtor's prisons rise again in the South (by Sue Sturgis at Facing South)
Criminal Justice Debt: a Barrier to Re-entry (Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School)