As a home health provider in small-town Texas, Maria Cervantes and her children live on just $400 per month.

She found herself in a hard spot when she was charged with driving while intoxicated in Kinney County. Though she wanted to accept a plea agreement before the court allowed her to plead guilty and start her probation, she’d have to scrape up $897 — more than two months’ income — to pre-pay her fine and court costs. It meant taking on debt from loans from family and friends.

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