Brown v. Lexington County, et al
This case is part of a nationwide fight against criminalization of poverty and, specifically, debtors’ prisons. On June 1, 2017, the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, the ACLU of South Carolina, and Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging the illegal arrest and incarceration of indigent people in Lexington County, South Carolina, for failure to pay fines and fees, without determining willfulness or providing assistance to counsel. Those targeted by this long-standing practice could avoid jail only if they paid the entire amount of outstanding court fines and fees up front and in full. Indigent people who were unable to pay were incarcerated for weeks to months without ever seeing a judge, having a court hearing, or receiving help from a lawyer. The result was one of the most draconian debtors’ prisons uncovered by the ACLU since 2010.