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Michigan v. Bailey (Amicus Brief)

The Brennan Center filed an amicus brief in Michigan v. Bailey arguing that incarcerating an individual for their inability to pay criminal justice debt contributes to mass incarceration and may be unconstitutional under Michigan law.

Published: August 26, 2013

The Brennan Center for Justice, along with the ACLU of Michigan, the Michigan State Planning Body and McDermott Will & Emery LLP, filed an amicus brief in the case of Michigan v. Bailey appealing a lower court decision that incarcerated defendant Joseph Bailey for his inability to pay court-ordered criminal justice fees. The practice of imposing hefty legal fees and fines on poor people has lead to a 21st century debtors’ prisons.

The Brennan Center’s brief highlights troubling sentencing practices in Michigan which have contributed to the expensive incarceration of many indigent men and women across the state. The brief urges the Michigan Court of Appeals to clarify the appropriate ‘ability to pay’ determination criteria for lower courts, in order to prevent continued violations of indigent defendants’ constitutional rights.

Michigan v. Bailey Amicus Brief