Court fees and minor fines are leading to debilitating cycles of incarceration in the US
In St Louis County in Missouri – and, indeed, across much of the United States – court fines and fees for minor traffic violations can quickly mount, leading to jail for those unable to pay. This is a crisis hidden in plain sight, with non-white communities disproportionately targeted for police stops. A Debtors’ Prison tells the story of two women, Samantha Jenkins and Meredith Walker, who became plaintiffs in a landmark $4.75 million illegal jailing case. Set in the hometown of Michael Brown, the African-American teenager killed in the notorious 2014 police shooting, this short documentary by Todd Chandler and Brett Story examines the inherent inhumanity of a punitive criminal justice system that places inordinate burdens on the poor.
Directors: Brett Story, Todd Chandler