Your second editorial in two months on unpaid fines (“Our View: Jail is the wrong way to make offenders pay fines,” June 8) perpetuates the fiction that people are jailed because they are too poor to pay fines.

This is not true. Here are the facts:

No one is incarcerated because they cannot pay a fine. At sentencing, judges diligently explore a defendant’s ability to pay fines (many of which are mandatory). We welcome you to observe this process any time. Maine courts have established thousands of payment plans, some for as little as $5 a month.

If a defendant stops paying their fine, they have an obligation to return to court, explain their failure and establish a new payment plan. It is not until a defendant fails to appear in court, after having been ordered to appear, that a warrant is issued.

Even then, law enforcement generally does not execute that warrant. Frequently, someone is detained for committing another crime, or stopped for a motor vehicle violation, and the warrant issued for their failure to appear is discovered.

The difference between “freedom and months in jail” is not “the balance in one’s bank account.” It is the difference between showing up for court when ordered to do so, and ignoring a court order. And responding to a court order to appear is hardly “a legal fine point.”

Mary Ann Lynch, Esq.

media and government counsel, Maine Judicial Branch