The Cost of Justice: In Indiana, Legal Fines and Fees Are Determined by Where You Live


Over 100 types of fees can be imposed in Indiana.

Monetary sanctions can prevent intergenerational wealth through the seizure of property, assets, and accounts,  and the collateral consequences they perpetuate are often overlooked. People involved in the criminal legal system are subject to an array of fines and fees without consistent access to ability to pay hearings in Indiana. When people are assessed fine and fee amounts they are unable to pay, additional consequences such as incarceration and the addition of pay-to-stay fees often result. Over the years, high incarceration rates have triggered the need for more revenue, resulting in the rise of the use of fees as a source of general revenue. Court revenue from fines and fees was $67 million in 1988 and grew to $242 million in 2008 due to the rise of mass incarceration. This article details the experiences of Hoosiers from across the state who have been ordered to pay fines and fees, demonstrating how counties across Indiana do not charge fees equally.

You can read the full text here

Key Findings:

  • In 2022, Indiana courts generated $137 million from imposing fines and fees for the state; $82 million was from a $189 baseline fee levied on every criminal case.
  • Indiana counties collect between $97 and $303 in revenue per case; Marion County, the largest system in the state, collects $192 per case.
  • Indiana allows counties to collect up to $30 daily in pay-to-stay fees.
  • In 2022, the state collected $1.1 million in revenue from the $25 late payment fee.
Isabelle Kause, Jack Sirianni and Katie Muchnick
Indianapolis Star