The Fines and Fees Justice Index

In December 2022, The National Center for Access to Justice updated its Fines and Fees Justice Index. The last update was in May 2020. The Fines and Fees Index gives states a rating from zero to 100 based on how they measure against 17 benchmark policies for fine and fee justice.  A state that meets all 17 policy benchmarks would earn a score of 100, whereas a state that meets none would earn a score of zero. Since the last update, more than 12 states have eliminated fees, ended harsh punishments for failure to pay, or improved their fines and fees policies. All states still received a failing score; Washington and Rhode Island are the only states to score over 50. The index also includes state policy reports highlighting the laws and rules each state does not yet have in place but could establish to protect its residents’ rights.

You can access the index here.

Key Findings:

  • Only four states have abolished all juvenile court fines and fees.
  • 20 states condition restoration of voting rights on payment of fines and fees.
  • 25 states have codified a right to counsel in all proceedings where a person faces possible incarceration for failure to pay fines and fees.
  • No state collects and publishes key data at the state, county, and municipal levels.
National Center for Access to Justice