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DOJ: Mississippi Police Agency Unconstitutionally Jailed People

The Department of Justice says that a Mississippi police department violated the Constitution by jailing people for unpaid fines without first assessing whether they can afford to pay them, reports USA Today. The announcement on Thursday comes amid the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into Lexington, Ms., police into alleged civil rights violations in 2022.

Federal prosecutors said Lexington violated the Fourteenth Amendment by imprisoning people who couldn't pay outstanding fines. They said police require people who are arrested to pay outstanding fines before they can be released from jail. Lexington police also issued and arrested people on warrants for outstanding fines, and sometimes requiring people to pay old fines and the processing fee before they could be released. Lexington is part of Holmes County, one of the poorest counties in the nation’s poorest state with a poverty rate approaching 30%.


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