Lawsuit: Bossier Parish violates rights of poor people

BOSSIER PARISH - A federal lawsuit is alleging that poor people charged with minor offenses have their constitutional rights violated in Bossier Parish.

Six 26th Judicial District Court judges and Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington are named in the lawsuit filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

The lawsuit alleges, people arrested on certain misdemeanor crimes in Bossier Parish have a bail automatically set for them upon booking, according to a schedule ordered by the 26th Judicial District judges. Those too poor to pay these predetermined bail amounts are forced to remain in jail waiting for a hearing before a judge.

“When a poor person is picked up on a misdemeanor violation in Bossier Parish their bail is automatically set without regard for income, whether they are a flight risk or whether they are a danger to the community. If an arrestee cannot afford bail, he sits in jail until the court holds a hearing,” said Eric Foley, attorney with the New Orleans office of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center.

James Wheat and Danny Brinson are the lead plaintiffs in the class action suit. 

Both were arrested on March 6, 2017, on allegations of panhandling and are held on $1,000 bail.

Click here to read the lawsuit. 


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