Unable to pay traffic tickets, single mom jailed for weeks

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FLORISSANT, Missouri – A 34-year-old single mother was arrested and held in jail for two weeks after a traffic accident that wasn’t her fault. Now, she’s suing a Missouri city and county she says punished her for being poor.

The Guardian reports Nicole Bolden was arrested in front of her toddlers in 2014 when authorities discovered she had arrest warrants for unpaid traffic tickets totaling more than $1,700.

Bolden’s lawyer says the Constitution requires courts to work on a payment or community service plan with people who can’t—rather than won’t—pay their fines. Instead, Bolden was kept in jail in what she says were horrible conditions.

At one point, she was housed with a heroin addict vomiting during withdrawals; she says the jail made her clean it up, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

In a civil rights lawsuit filed Monday, December 5th Bolden says she was jailed “solely because she was too poor to pay” and likens the current system in Missouri to a “debtors’ prison.” Foristell, the city named in Bolden’s lawsuit, raises more than half its revenue from court fines—at least $2.9 million over the past five years in a city of just 500 people.

The state has audited Foristell for possible municipal court abuses, and Bolden’s lawsuit is part of a string of similar suits filed recently in Missouri. Earlier this year, the Justice Department warned judges across the country against jailing people just because they couldn’t afford to pay fines.

(New Orleans also has been accused of running a modern debtors’ prison.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Unable to Pay Traffic Tickets, Single Mom Jailed for Weeks

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  • blameitonsomeoneelse

    She was jailed because she didn’t follow traffic laws then didn’t pay the tickets. If you can’t afford to pay the tickets and don’t want to go to jail then don’t break laws. Seems simple. But I guess it’s always easier to blame the system then take responsibility.

  • FAUX 6 panders to liberals

    Typical liberal story by FAUX6… poor black woman, jailed because she was poor! How dare the white man pick on her and give her tickets for breaking the law! How dare the white man force her to be a “Single mother” and make her life difficult! How dare the white man force her to park illegally and get all of those tickets in the first place! Yes the devil white man made you do it, right? I think we can clearly see FAUX6’s liberal bias in stupid stories like this.


    Obviously she had enough money to buy a ton of twinkies based on how round this fatty is. Should have done her body a favor and saved up all of that money to pay for her tickets.

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