Plaintiff Speaks Out on Benton County Lawsuit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Plaintiff Speaks Out on Benton County Lawsuit

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - Benton County is facing a lawsuit over what the ACLU is calling 'a modern day debtors' prison.' The class action lawsuit says the county jails, threatens to jail, or forces manual labor on needy or poor people who can't pay their legal financial obligations. Those are things like fines, court-appointed attorney fees, and restitution. 

The ACLU and Terrell Marshall Law Group filed the suit Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court. It's on behalf of three plaintiffs - Jayne Fuentes, Gina Taggart, and Reese Groves - who all say they've gone through some tough times because of their court debts. 


"I feel like I'm in this cycle that's never going to end like I can't get out of the system no matter how hard I try. If I go to jail today I lose everything I've worked hard for over the last three years to try and rebuild my life. I would lose everything," said Jayne Fuentes.
 
Fuentes and the other plaintiffs want the system declared unconstitutional. They want a court order requiring the creation of a new constitutional system. 

Benton County Commissioners were served the papers Tuesday. Commissioner Jim Beaver said they are evaluating the lawsuit right now and waiting to see what happens in court. NBC Right Now also left a message with the presiding district court judge. 

The first hearing will likely be held in the next few months.

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