LINCOLN, Neb. — Advocates for low-income Nebraska residents hope a new law will help keep poor people who committed minor offenses from wasting time in jail.
A law passed this month will require judges to consider a person’s financial status before assigning fines or setting bail. It also would require a person who fails to pay a fine in time to appear before a judge instead of automatically sitting out the fine in jail at the rate of $90 a day. Judges could dismiss the fine or assign community service instead.
Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro says the law could save millions of dollars. The county now spends $5.6 million annually just incarcerating people sitting out fines. Parts of the law take effect later this year and parts in 2019.