Editorial New York Times
Here is a tale that sounds like it comes right from the pages of “Little Dorrit,” Charles Dickens’s scathing indictment of Victorian England’s debtors’ prisons. Unfortunately, it is happening in 21st-century America. Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son. When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which helped get her out last week after she spent 28 days behind bars, says it is seeing more people being sent to jail because they cannot make various court-ordered payments. That is both barbaric and unconstitutional.