Damian Stinnie was a 24 year old who grew up in the foster care system and graduated with a 3.9 GPA from high school. He worked at Walmart but lost the job in 2012. He earned little more than minimum wage with no benefits. He eventually got a job at Abercrombie & Fitch, earning approximately $300 per week. During his search for new employment, Stinnie received four traffic citations that totaled $1002.00 in fines and fees. He was unable to pay, and his license was suspended. The first time he knew his license had been suspended was when he was stopped and cited by the police for driving with a suspended driver’s license. Stinnie received a summons to appear in court, but failed to appear because shortly after receiving the summons, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed chemotherapy. He was found guilty in absentia and ordered to pay $117 in costs, including $35 trial in absence fee.
During this time, Stinnie’s only source of income was food stamps and Supplemental Security Income. Because of his illness, he moved in with his former foster parents and then with his great aunt because she lived closer to the hospital. In 2016, he was stopped again for reckless driving and driving with a suspended license. Stinnie pled guilty, and the court sentenced him to 30 days in jail, with 26 days suspended; a period of driver’s license suspension for 90 days; and, $257 in fines and fees. No ability to pay hearing was ever conducted, and no payment plans were made available. Some of his debt was transferred to collection agencies. To obtain an extension of time to pay, one court required him to pay 10% down to receive an additional 90 days; another required a $10 fee to get a six-month extension on payment, subject to court approval.
Source: Stinnie v. Holcomb