Our justice system is supposed to operate with integrity – providing equal justice for all. Yet in far too many places in the United States, court fines and fees have put an exorbitant price tag on justice. Across the country, courts impose fines as a punishment for minor traffic and municipal code violations, misdemeanors and felonies. Courts then tax people with fees, surcharges, and costs used to fund the justice system and other government services.
Fines and fees devastate the lives of millions of Americans. People who cannot immediately pay face additional fees, license suspensions, loss of voting rights and, far too frequently, arrest and jail. Millions of Americans get trapped in the justice system simply because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees. Stuck in a maze of poverty and punishment, people can lose their jobs, their homes, and even their children. We’ve created a two-tier system of justice.
The Fines & Fees Justice Center seeks to restore integrity to our justice system by catalyzing a movement to eliminate the fines and fees that distort justice. Our goal is to eliminate fees in the justice system and to make fines proportional to the offense and the individual.
As national center for advocacy, information, and collaboration, FFJC’s mission is to create a justice system that treats individuals fairly, ensures public safety and community prosperity, and is funded equitably. Led by two nationally-recognized experts, FFJC works collaboratively with justice system stakeholders and affected communities to end abusive collection practices and eliminate the justice tax.
To accomplish our mission, FFJC is developing a model for comprehensive reform in the states, creating a National Clearinghouse, and providing support for reform efforts around the country.