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This sounds terrible. It's like people are kept subjugated so that they have no means of escape from any given situation.RFM wrote: There is a very good description of the English debtor's prison in one of Charles Dickens's novels, the title of which escapes me now.
However in America the issue of payment of fines is generally left to the states and the municipalities. It can be and frequently is abused though. For instance in Missouri it turns out that communities with large African American communities are regularly threatened and squeezed with jail time to extract fines, cash that is, from people who can not really afford to pay. Rather than impose some sort of community service such as road cleaning, moping floors in municipal buildings etc., the poor blacks are held in jail. Hence the civil rioting. So the answer to your question is no there is no uniform law or policy regarding fines.