Group protests ‘pay-or-jail’ sentences in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — A legal advocacy group says judges in Atlanta are illegally imposing sentences on poor people that require them to pay a set fine or spend time in jail.

The Southern Center for Human Rights on Monday sent a letter to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Municipal Court Chief Judge Christopher Portis. The letter says that imposing such “pay-or-jail” sentences on people who cannot afford to pay violates the U.S. Constitution.

The letter says the Southern Center has previously raised concerns about the sentences in a previous letter sent to the chief judge in September and during in-person meetings, but Atlanta Municipal Court judges continue the practice.

The mayor’s communications office and the chief judge did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Monday.

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