May 20, 2009 in City
Jesse Tinsley photo

Gary Berg, the chief deputy of the Spokane County Clerk’s Office, stands in the hallway where collection clerks meet with people who have financial commitments to be paid from criminal court judgments, such as restitution or court costs. When defendants do not pay their legal financial obligations, the clerk’s staff of collectors summon them to answer for their lack of payment. Sometimes the result is jail time.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Spokane County public defender Scott Mason talks with a client who had been summoned to the Spokane County Clerk’s Office on April 10, 2009, to explain why she hadn’t paid a court-ordered judgment. Sometimes the result is jail time. Some consider this debtor’s prison, a concept that is illegal, while others call it accountability.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Lawrence Grant sits in the Spokane County Jail on April 21 for not paying fines stemming from a theft charge. He was one of more than 60 in jail that day for not paying fines and restitution stemming from a criminal conviction or guilty plea. Grant has since been released from jail.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Michael Lafferty sits in the Spokane County Jail on April 21 for not paying fines stemming from an assault charge. He was one of more than 60 in jail that day for not paying fines and restitution stemming from a criminal conviction or guilty plea. He has since been released.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Robert Stanley sits in the Spokane County Jail on April 21 for not paying fines stemming from a 1997 burglary charge. He was one of more than 60 in jail that day for not paying fines and restitution stemming from a criminal conviction or guilty plea. He has since been released.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Jason Wagner picks up trash along Mission Avenue in Spokane Valley in April while working on the Spokane County Sheriff’s work crew. Wagner was in jail for failing to pay court fines from several years ago. He kicked drugs back in 2004 and thought he was done with the court system until he was arrested. He has since been released from jail. Washington’s criminal justice system, including Spokane County courts, takes a hard line against those who don’t pay fines and restitution resulting from criminal prosecution.