Alabama city settles suit alleging debtor's prison

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A public interest law firm says it has settled a federal lawsuit over allegations that a central Alabama city operated what amounted to a debtor's prison.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said Tuesday it had reached a preliminary agreement with the town of Alexander City.

Attorneys sued the city claiming it was jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees for traffic tickets and misdemeanor offenses. The law center says at least 190 poor people were wrongly jailed within two years.

Under the $680,000 settlement, people will get at least $500 for each day they were jailed illegally. A judge still must hold a final hearing on the settlement.

The mayor's office referred questions to a city attorney who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.