Philly man freed after he was jailed because he couldn't pay court costs

Cherri Gregg
November 22, 2019 - 3:02 pm
Maurice Hudson at a press conference discussing getting sent to jail for not being able to pay court costs.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia man who was on probation and jailed for being unable to pay his court costs is now free. Advocates say he is another example of why probation reform needs to happen now.

"This is very overwhelming, this is a lot. I'm just, just happy to be home," said Maurice Hudson, who is finally free.

The 29-year-old spent nearly a year in prison after the judge monitoring the probation in his case sentenced him to 1 1/2 to three years in prison for being unable to pay $1,941 in outstanding court costs.

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"I'm just very, very thankful for my attorney Cheryl Brooks," Hudson said. 

The Defender Association represents Hudson and appealed the sentence.  

Earlier this month, rapper Meek Mill and Philadelphia 76ers partner Mike Rubin visited the man at State Correctional Institution – Phoenix, with Rubin paying off the court costs. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania high court ordered Hudson free on bail, citing an "egregious error" by the lower court.

"It's not just getting one person home, and it's not just about getting rid of a bad judge, we gotta get rid of some of these bad laws," said Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, the group founded by Rubin to help Mill and to reform probation laws. 

State Rep. Jordan Harris says it costs the Commonwealth $100 million a year to send people like Hudson to prison for technical violations of probation.

"This person was not a danger to the community so why are we wasting this money," Harris said.

REFORM and Harris are pushing HB1555, a bipartisan effort to reform probation.