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Crime and Courts

Dodge City Among Cities Cited By Groups Over Imprisonment

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

A federal lawsuit that's part of a push by advocacy groups claims Dodge City imprisons people who can't afford to pay bond fees.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Kansas City by Washington-based Equal Justice Under Law on behalf of Lawrence J. Martinez. The lawsuit says Dodge City seeks to jail poor residents who "cannot pay an arbitrary amount of money."

Similar lawsuits were filed last week in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri. All accuse court systems of ignoring U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say courts must determine whether people have the ability to pay fines before jailing them for nonpayment.

City Attorney Brad Ralph said Monday he hadn't finished reading the complaint. He didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.