FFJC has released a set of policy recommendations to help stem the harms of this ongoing public health and economic crisis. This page also tracks state and local fines and fees reform efforts undertaken in response to coronavirus.
After experimenting with this policy for about two months, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich has permanently adopted a policy of declining to prosecute driving on a suspended license in cases where the license was suspended or revoked for nonpayment of fines and fees.
Since the 1970s, Philadelphia Rule of Criminal Procedure 528 allowed courts to keep 3% of total bail posted by defendants, even if they appeared at all hearings required by their bail bond. This October amendment ensures that defendants will receive 100% of their posted bail after their case is closed.
In Tennessee, Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk announced that he will stop prosecuting driver's license violations that result from failure to pay fines and fees, such as driving on a suspended license. His office predicts that this policy change could keep 12,000 charges out of Nashville courtrooms over the next year.
During the summer of 2018, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice voted to reduce the price of phone calls made from Texas prisons. Previously, incarcerated people paid an average of $0.26 per minute to call their loved ones; now the rate is $0.06 per minute, and the time limit for calls was increased from 20 to 30 minutes.
Starting in 2018, Texas’ Office of Court Administration (OCA) made changes to the rule that requires Texas counties and cities with a population of 100,000 or more to implement a Collection Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP webpage also includes a variety of sample language for court and program staff to use, including “Sample Payment Plan Application” and “Sample First Written Notice.”
In the summer of 2018, New Orleans became the first city in the South to abolish fees charged to youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
In the summer of 2018, the top judge in Middlesex County, NJ ordered the release of individuals who were arrested and detained for failure to appear in municipal court over low-level offenses, like failure to pay parking tickets.
This rule change adopts an appendix that defines minimum operating standards for municipal courts and their personnel to abide by. Several of these new minimum standards relate to fines and fees practices.
This court rule establishes a “sliding scale of indigency” and advises judges to reduce or waive fees that would pose an undue burden on defendants.