Lawsuits in various cities, including El Paso, are accusing city governments of operating “debtors’ prisons” -- jailing people who don’t have the money to pay fines, often for minor infractions such as traffic tickets. “ACLU investigations and lawsuits around the country are evidence this is a national problem and such egregious sanctions must be eliminated,” says Neil Sobol, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law. “The impact of criminal justice debt is especially severe on the poor and minorities as they are frequently assessed ‘poverty penalties’ for interest, late fees, installment plans, and collection. Often they have to decide between paying criminal justice debt and buying family necessities,” Sobol writes in his paper “Charging The Poor: Criminal Justice Debt & Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons.”