Tomia Valdez, 42, of Rapid City, is on disability for a degenerative genetic condition and has custody of her 17-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum. She said her driver’s license has been suspended since 2017 because she owes the state $4,000.
In Chicago, Alderman Gilbert Villegas has introduced legislation that would reduce the burden of traffic fines and fees for low-income Chicago residents by providing alternatives to fines and fees and improving access to payment plans.
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.
This SoundCloud recording made available by the Chicago Jobs Council takes an in-depth look into how parking tickets from 1999 cost 37-year old LaSheria Murphy her driver’s license, peace of mind, livelihood, and dignity.
FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss was invited to testify at a New York City Council hearing, “The Cost of Justice,” about fines and fees in NYC courts.
Before this resolution was passed by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, the county was charging $25 per day to people detained in the Ottawa County jail. Under the new billing system, detainees will be charged a flat fee of $60 for their incarceration, regardless of how long they stay.
FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss participated in a Smart on Crime Innovations Conference panel about eliminating “user fees” in the justice system.
Teon Smith, a mother of six, lived in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2018, she was pulled over because one of her tail lights was out. When the officer came back after running her driver’s license through the database, the officer told her that her license had been suspended for about three months by that time because of unpaid tickets.
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.