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Low income defendants face a tough road in Nebraska

Nebraska residents who are arrested and charged with criminal offenses can face a wide range of challenges. Among these challenges may just well be the fear of going to jail for no reason other than the fact that they are unable to pay the required fine or fee associated with their criminal charge. The Nebraska branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has recently released a report about this very issue.

According to the ACLU, the state has adopted many policies or ways of handling criminal cases that essentially discriminates against those with low incomes. It even suggests that the state may actually perpetuate the problems associated with poverty. This is because when people fail to pay a fee or a fine after a criminal arrest, jail time may be ordered. This then takes the person away from any job he or she may have, further reducing the ability to pay the fee or fine.

The ACLU's report also shed light on inconsistencies throughout the state. In one example, a specific offense leads to a high bail cost in one county but to no bail costs at all in other counties. More than 50 percent of those incarcerated in Nebraska are said to be there because they can't pay bail or because they are waiting for trial dates. People accused of nonviolent crimes spend more than 45 days on average in jail before trial.

Defendants in Nebraska may wish to talk with an attorney after an arrest to understand their options for fair treatment by the judicial and legal systems. 

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, "ACLU: It shouldn't be a crime to be poor," Nichole Manna, Dec. 15, 2016

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