Middle TN sheriff must stop jailing some poor offenders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a Middle Tennessee sheriff to stop jailing some people simply because they can’t afford bail.

The Thursday ruling pertains to misdemeanor offenders in Giles County who are arrested for probation violations and given a predetermined bail amount without any consideration of their ability to pay.

U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr. has ordered county officials not to detain those people unless a judge first considers whether cash bail is necessary in their specific circumstances and whether they can pay it.

The issue is part of a larger lawsuit and the order is only temporary while that suit is being decided. The lawsuit accuses the county and for-profit probation companies of using the threat of jail and extended probation to squeeze money out of indigent misdemeanor offenders.

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