- In Texas, the installation of credit card readers in police patrol vehicles and contracts some counties have for automatic license plate reading forces people into a difficult situation: to pay off their debt plus $125 processing fee at the time they are stopped, or get arrested.
- After being released from prison, returning citizens are burdened with about $13,000 of court debt.
This review opens by providing background on the history and landscape of court fines, fees, and costs; then proceeds to a discussion of how the imposition of these costs can affect a person’s life, the groups most often burdened by these consequences, and the role law enforcement plays in this scheme of court debt collection. The authors chronicle the history of collecting data from incarcerated individuals regarding sentence outcomes by listing the surveys and programs that have been used, including the State Court Processing Statistics database. The article concludes with information about fine and fee reforms that have been instituted and the research needed to help to achieve a more just and fair criminal legal system.
You can read the full text of the review here, but it lives behind a paywall.
- African-Americans account for 5.8 percent of San Francisco’s population and 48.7 percent of people arrested for warrants for failure to appear or pay traffic debt.
- Unpaid court fines and fees can be reported to credit agencies through civil judgments (which can worsen a person’s credit score) and court debt can lead to liens, wage garnishment, and tax rebate interception.
- In Texas, the installation of credit card readers in police patrol vehicles and the use of automatic license plate reading technology forces people into a difficult situation: pay off their debt plus $125 processing fee at the time they are stopped, or get arrested.
- There is no consistent set of statutes, policies, or principles that govern court fines and fees at the federal level.
- Based upon a sample of data from a limited number of counties, about 20 percent of people initially charged with a felony and then convicted of a felony or misdemeanor were ordered to pay fines. The median amount of fines was $506. 12 percent of people convicted were sentenced to pay restitution, with a median amount of $400.
- As the only data system of its kind, the SCPS is the most reliable source for comparing felony sentencing outcome statistics across multiple jurisdictions. However, the limitations of the system warrant multiple concerns in terms of using the information to map out county trends in the assessment of fines and fees.
- A settlement from a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU regarding fine and fee practices in Biloxi, Mississippi brought key policy improvements including the development of a bench card which outlaws pay-or-stay sentences and recommends that judges assess a person’s financial status when imposing fines and fees.
- Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors ceased collecting juvenile fines and fees after the County realized that they had spent upwards of $250,000 to collect about $420,000 of court fines and fees.
- According to a recent estimate, people are burdened with about $13,000 of court debt after being released from prison.