On July 21, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an amended complaint accusing Lexington County, South Carolina officials of trampling on the constitutional rights of indigent defendants by jailing them for minor crimes and traffic tickets.
Just four days later, one of the plaintiffs was locked up for a week for nonpayment of less than $500 in traffic court fines, according to a recent ACLU pleading.
Citing the jailing of Raymond Wright, Jr., one of five plaintiffs, the ACLU on Tuesday has asked a federal judge to add a damages claim on behalf of Wright.
The ACLU says while in jail, Wright was denied proper medication, twice blacked out and ended up in the emergency room for dangerously low blood pressure even as he was cuffed to his hospital bed.
Another plaintiff was jailed 63 days for failing to pay $1,710, according to the ACLU lawsuit, which charges the county relies on court fines for its general revenue.
Attorneys for the Lexington County officials who are being sued by the ACLU have yet to reply to the latest allegations, but previously have asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
In part, Lexington County officials have argued the complaint is moot because the state’s chief justice recently issued a memo calling for statewide reforms. DebtorsPrisons.com obtained a copy of the memo and reported on it last week. The memo was issued a few month after when the ACLU says Wright was jailed.