In 2019, the Idaho Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) published a report acknowledging Idaho’s reliance on fines and fees as a source of court funding. According to the report Idaho residents owed a total of more than $268 million in delinquent court debt. In this article, the authors further examine the state’s reliance on monetary sanctions, focusing on fees in the juvenile delinquency system, and recommending a pathway to ending the harmful impact of monetary sanctions.
Access the full article here.
- Idaho law gives judges the discretion to impose fines in all criminal cases, but requires an administrative surcharge fee in every criminal case.
- In 2015, Idaho courts ordered $65 million in criminal fines and fees– a significant majority of the courts’ gross revenue.
- There is no law or policy to determine when a defendant is unable to pay fines and fees, or when to write off or waive unpaid debt.
- Youth in Idaho can be charged fees at many points during a juvenile proceeding, mostly without considering the youth or their family’s ability to pay. Costs imposed can include fees for a court appointed public defender, supervision, electronic monitoring, costs of detention, and court ordered treatments or classes.
- In 2020, Idaho adopted new juvenile fees for electronic monitoring and drug and alcohol testing.
- Outstanding juvenile fees are subject to a 12 percent annual interest rate and nonpayment can result in arrest, wage garnishment, or tax fund interception.
- Court agencies, counties and juvenile courts should exercise their discretion to end juvenile fees immediately.
- Place a moratorium on all garnishments, liens, tax refund intercepts, interest accrual and other harmful penalties and collection measures.
- Courts should stop issuing and recall all arrest warrants for unpaid court debt and never refer debt to private collections.
- The legislature should eliminate fees while preserving funding for important state and local programs with tax dollars and waive outstanding debt.
- County Boards of Commissioners should pass ordinances barring the imposition of all discretionary fees.
- Counties should cancel all outstanding debt from fees and cancel contracts with private debt collection agencies seeking to recover juvenile fees from Idaho youth and families.