COVID-19 Crisis: Advocacy Materials

FFJC is compiling advocacy materials for organizations and community members across America who are working toward fines and fees policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Below, you can find a list of letters, model policies, and other advocacy tools that FFJC and other organizations have distributed.

Additionally, if you would like to find out whether these advocacy efforts were successful, you can consult our national policy tracker here.

This page was last updated on October 12th 2020

COVID-19 Advocacy Materials

  • FFJC sent a letter to Florida Governor DeSantis outlining our fines and fees policy recommendations: Link
  • FFJC sent a letter to New York Governor Cuomo outlining our fines and fees policy recommendations: Link
  • The Free to Drive Coalition called on the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to urge member agencies to end debt-related driver’s license suspensions: Link
  • Several advocacy organizations asked the California’s Judicial Council to release driver’s license holds imposed for failure to appear in court: Link
  • The Debt Free Justice California coalition drafted an executive order for California Governor Newsom that would provide relief for people who owe government-imposed debt: Link
  • Several advocacy organizations asked the California State Controller to suspend the accrual of interest on government-imposed debt: Link
  • Several advocacy organizations asked California Governor Newsom to provide relief for people who owe government-imposed debt: Link
  • Colorado criminal justice leaders and legislators called for the immediate suspension of the assessment and collection of all criminal and juvenile fees, fines and costs: Link 
  • A coalition of organizations called upon leaders of Nevada’s juvenile justice system to reduce new admissions to juvenile detention and correctional facilities and initiate the removal of youth from juvenile detention and correctional facilities including those with COVID-19 symptoms. The group also requested an immediate moratorium on the assessment and collection of all fines and fees in the juvenile legal system for the duration of the public health and economic crisis: Link
  • More than 100 organizations across the country issued a statement calling on state and local decision-makers nationwide to suspend the assessment and collection of juvenile fees and fines during COVID-19 pandemic: Link
  • 34 organizations and individuals dedicated to the health and safety of Philadelphia’s youth signed onto a letter calling on Philadelphia leadership to reduce the population in all youth detention and correctional facilities, including prohibiting the detention of any youth for failure to appear, pay fines, fees: Link 
  • 140 nonprofit organizations in the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition sent a letter to the Minnesota Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group supporting immediate driver’s license reinstatement for licenses suspended for reasons other than unsafe driving. 
  • The Oregon Law Center wrote to the presiding judges of the Oregon Circuit Courts (the Oregon trial courts), asking them to take steps to implement/expand the state-level agencies related to court debt. The letter can be found here, and the successes of the letter can be found on our reform tracker
  • Advocates in Washington State sent a letter to the Governor and the Director of Licensing requesting they immediately stop suspending, and refusing to renew, driver’s licenses for reasons other than unsafe driving, and to reinstate licenses currently suspended for reasons other than unsafe driving, for at least the duration of the public health and economic crisis wrought by COVID-19. Advocates referenced the Free to Drive letter to AAMVA to assist in explaining the important public health reasons for taking this step. 
  • Referencing the Free to Drive letter to AAMVA, the Florida State Director of FFJC sent a letter to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requesting that they issue a statewide moratorium on driver’s license suspension for unpaid fines and fees, pursuant to the authority granted by Executive Order 20-52. Local jurisdictions within Florida have taken various actions, but a statewide moratorium would provide much needed uniformity and stability across the state. 
  • The ACLU of South Carolina sent a letter to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, requesting SC-DMV to impose an immediate moratorium lasting a minimum of three months on imposing any new suspensions on driver’s licenses for failure to comply with traffic tickets under Section 56-25-20.
  • As part of litigation in South Carolina in the case White v. Shwedo, the ACLU of South Carolina included this expert declaration from a public health professor at the University of South Carolina laying out why people with suspended driver’s licenses are likely to be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. 
  • Organizations call for the FCC to protect incarcerated people and their families during the COVID- 19 crisis by offering free phone and video calls with no fees for the next 60 days: Link 
  • Advocates in Massachusetts urge state public safety officials to ensure access to free telephone and video conferencing for all incarcerated people: Link
  • Advocates in New York wrote an open letter to leadership in the state of New York, outlining their request to release as many women as possible from prison, and protect those who cannot be released through a series of practices outlined in the letter: Link 
  • 60 New York State legislators sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo urging emergency measures to minimize harms of court debt: Link
  • Advocates in Florida sent a letter to the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court requesting the Court issue guidance to the lower courts addressing the fines, fees, and court costs imposed in criminal, delinquency, and non criminal traffic cases: Link
  • In Chicago, the Transit Table Coalition is advocating for the extension and permanent adoption of COVID-19 related ticketing, impounding and license suspension reforms: Link
  • Debt Free Justice California sent letters to Superior Court judges and County Boards of Supervisors across California requesting the suspension of all collection efforts on fines and fees: Link, Link
  • Duke University law professor, Brandon L. Garrett, urges against the use of court fines and fees to recover lost revenue from the pandemic: Link
  • The North Carolina Fines and Fees Commission sent letters to state officials recommending broad policy changes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 including the elimination of certain adult and juvenile fines and court costs, revocation of drivers’ licenses for non-payment, release of individuals incarcerated for outstanding fines and fees, and the suspension of collections: House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic Support; NC Department of Motor Vehicles; NC Law Enforcement; NC League of Municipalities; NC Association of County Commissioners; House Select Committee on COVID-19 Continuity of State Operations Working Group  
  • The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice released general and sector-specific recommendations for police, courts, corrections, and community-based organizations, including granting extensions for in-person filing or collection of fees and fines, and avoiding past policies such as relying on excessive fines and forfeitures to increase revenue.