Predatory fees are trapping New Yorkers in a cycle of debt and poverty
Fines and fees make New York’s communities less safe, exacerbate poverty and extract millions of dollars from low-income communities and communities of color. Those with money can easily pay their way out of punishment. Those who can’t afford to pay these costs, risk more fees, loss of employment, arrest and jail.
Predatory fees don’t just punish people moving through the justice system, they also hurt their families and loved ones, who take on the burden of these fees, often going into debt to do so. For example, families with incarcerated loved ones, must pay exorbitant prison and jail phone call fees just to stay connected to their sons, fathers, daughters and mothers. Women disproportionately bear the burden of paying for the ever-mounting fees and costs for their family members behind bars.
It’s time to say no to predatory fees. The Fines and Fees Justice Center’s (FFJC) New York state team is building broad-based coalitions from across the political spectrum including impacted people, grassroots organizers, judges, public defenders, legislators, faith-based leaders and advocacy organizations in an effort to end these predatory costs and put money back in the pockets of working families.
No Price on Justice Campaign
New York’s predatory court fees encourage policing-for-profit, endanger Black and brown lives, and criminalize poverty. No Price on Justice is a coalition of economic and racial justice advocates, grassroots organizations, and impacted people working together to end New York’s predatory court fees. Our mission is to end criminal legal system fees and find more equitable ways to fund government.
Ready to join the campaign? Visit No Price on Justice to learn more about joining our coalition.
New Report: Assessments and Surcharges: A 50-State Survey of Supplemental Fees — FFJC’s latest national fee survey on assessments and surcharges reveals New York’s mandatory surcharge is among the most burdensome in all 50 states.
Press Statement: Gov. Hochul Calls to Eliminate NY’s Parole Supervision Fees —On January 5th, Gov. Hochul called for the elimination of parole supervision fees in her State of the State book. In response, the No Price on Justice coalition released the following statement.
Connecting Families Campaign
Communicating with loved ones is an essential human need. Yet, for people who are incarcerated in New York and their loved ones, the predatory costs of prison and jail phone calls makes connecting nearly impossible. These costs force incarcerated people and their families to choose between paying for basic necessities or staying connected. The financial impact of this choice is felt most acutely by economically distressed communities and communities of color. One in three families goes into debt just to hear the voice of a loved one.
Connecting Families is a coalition of directly impacted individuals and families working to end the costs of voice communications in prison, jail and juvenile detention centers. Read more about their work and why communications in prisons and jails should be free here.
Driven by Justice Campaign
Driven by Justice is a statewide coalition of grassroots, economic justice, and civil rights organizations, public defenders, and directly affected people working to end the unfair and discriminatory practice of suspending people’s driver’s licenses for nonpayment of traffic tickets in New York State. On Dec 31st 2020, Driven by Justice celebrated a major victory when Governor Cuomo signed the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act (DLSRA) into law.
New York’s Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act (DLSRA) Goes Into Full Effect — the new law will end license suspensions due to non-payment of traffic fines, while making affordable payment plans available (at 2% of a person’s monthly income or $25/month, whichever is greater). The reform would also reinstate the licenses of people who currently have a suspended license due to non-payment of traffic fines. The new law will also help individuals whose licenses are suspended for missing a traffic hearing by providing them with an opportunity to enter into a payment plan and get their licenses restored. Those individuals – often people who did not respond to their traffic ticket because they could not afford their traffic fines – can reinstate their licenses by entering a payment plan without the obstacle of paying reinstatement fees, as they will be folded into the total payment plan amount. Individuals will also now be issued two notifications prior to a license suspension.
End Predatory Court Fees Act Fact Sheet — Get everything you need to know about New York’s proposed legislation to end predatory court fees in No Price on Justice’s issue brief and bill summary.
Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act Facts & FAQs — The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act is officially in full effect. Find out what you can do if your driver’s license was suspended for unpaid traffic fines or for not appearing in court, and how to get on an installment payment plan in Driven’s by Justice FAQ sheet.
New York’s Ferguson Problem — In 2010, Ferguson generated over 12% of its revenue from fines and fees. By 2015, the city planned to collect over 23% of its revenue through fines and fees. But Ferguson isn’t the only city suffering from a reliance on fines and fees. In New York, many localities’ reliance on fines and fees is just as bad — and in some cases worse — than when the Ferguson report was released in 2015. Learn more about New York’s dangerous reliance on fines and fees revenue in No Price on Justice‘s latest report New York’s Ferguson Problem.