Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

House votes to end ‘debtor’s prison’

OLYMPIA -- People convicted of crimes in Washington could not be sent to jail for failing to pay fees, fines or restitution under a bill approved by the unanimous House Wednesday.

House Bill 1390 would change rules on court debts, generally known as legal financial obligations, requiring victims to be paid restitution before other fees and fines are collected. It would also reduce the interest rate that can be charged on some obligations, and not allow interest to be charged while the person in jail. A court would have to consider a person's ability to pay.

Supporters of the bill likened the practice of jailing people who couldn't pay fines to debtor's prison. 

The bill was sent to the Senate, which failed to vote on a similar version of the bill last year after it passed the House 94-4 

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

Follow Jim online: