Tom Barrett of Augusta, Georgia returned to a convenience store where he stole a can of beer. He spent time in jail, not for the crime, but because he couldn't afford the fines and fees that went along with wearing an electronic monitoring device.
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Tom Barrett of Augusta, Georgia returned to a convenience store where he stole a can of beer. He spent time in jail, not for the crime, but because he couldn't afford the fines and fees that went along with wearing an electronic monitoring device.

In Georgia, county courts have contracted with private probation companies to collect fines from offenders. People are sometimes jailed for not being able to pay, even though the Supreme Court outlawed debtors’ prisons some 35 years ago. In the last couple of years, Georgia law changes made it harder for private probation companies to operate. What happens now to people who don’t pay the fines? We asked Marshall Project reporter Beth Schwartzapfel and Atlanta attorney Akiva Freidlin of the Southern Center for Human Rights.