Mass. Bill Seeks To Lessen Jail Time Due To Fines

Apr 11, 2017

New legislation filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker would allow those fined by a court a chance to work off the debt through community service, instead being thrown in jail.

In a statement, Baker said the hope is to keep more people from going behind bars just because of their inability to pay.

Richard Dohoney, president of the Berkshire County Bar Association, said the bill would have some positive impacts beyond that.

"I think it will help reduce recidivism rates," Dohoney said. "It will certainly, maybe not to the extent people are hoping, but will have a reduction in the prison population, which frankly will help all of our pocket books."

Baker's bill would give defendants the option of completing community service. That's instead of the current system of paying off their debt through jail-time, with $30 knocked off the bill each day they're locked up.

The bill also gives judges more flexibility to waive the fines.