Pay or Stay


In violation of a 1983 Supreme Court ruling, poor people throughout the U.S. are serving time for unpaid court fines. This reflects a disconnect between federal criminal justice standards and the whims of local judges. This project investigates the funding scheme devised by cities to cover their bottom lines, the courts that ignore the law — and the people whose debts keep local governments running.



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Jack Dodson

Jack Dodson is a freelance reporter and videographer based in New York City, originally from Maine. At Columbia, he specialized in investigative reporting with the Stabile Center and in documentary. His work is primarily focused on criminal justice, immigration, corruption, and climate change.