The Justice Department says poor people should not be thrown in jail for failing to fines and fees imposed by state court systems.

FOX's Rachel Sutherland reports from Washington:

The Justice Department is discouraging states from jailing criminal defendants who don't pay court-ordered fines. The new guidance comes after a report found the Ferguson police department and court system routinely issued arrest warrants for failure to pay fines.

In a letter to local courts in all 50 states, the head of the Justice Department's civil rights division wrote that "Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape".

In Washington, Rachel Sutherland, FOX News.