As we've discussed, poor people across the country face incarceration for minor offenses because they can't pay fines and fees. (See here, for instance.)
On a more hopeful note, check out the recent op-ed in the Post by Texas municipal court Judge Ed Spillane. Entitled "Why I refuse to send people to jail for failure to pay fines," the piece details several alternative approaches, including imposing community service, sending defendants to courses to address the underlying problems that led to the offenses, and sometimes basic mercy.
Judge Spillane concludes, "An arrest can cost a citizen his or her job, dignity and security. Alternative sentencing is a way to achieve what we should all want: an end to criminal behavior."
Read his article here.