You are here

Video of Judge Touches Off Debate Over Offenders Who Can't Pay

Richard A. Diment, a Municipal Court judge in Bowdon, Ga., has been excoriated after a video surfaced in which he threatened to jail defendants who didn't cough up money toward their fines, The New York Times' Shaila Dewan reports. Diment told the NYT that he only made an empty threat to pressure people to pay their fines.

Dewan notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the poor can't be jailed solely if they can't pay a fine. But Diment, analyzing the precedent in Bearden v. Georgia, noted that a defendant "must make bona fide efforts to seek employment or borrow the money." The case, however, didn't address whether defendants should be forced to accept onerous terms on lending, Dewan writes.