OPINION: Pro Bono Lawyers Can Close Debtors' Prisons

Law360, New York (May 18, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT) -- News coverage of the U.S. Department of Justice's damning report on municipal court practices in Ferguson, Missouri, has recently brought the re-emergence of debtors' prisons to the attention of many. These practices are by no means limited to Ferguson.

As tax revenue and other sources of operating income declined, many cities and towns throughout the United States looked to municipal court operations as a primary source of revenue. Some city councils have increasingly depended on their municipal courts to make up shortfalls, demanding that judges and court clerks collect as much money as possible with little regard for the impact on...

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