Alexandra Bastien of PolicyLink describes how the imposition of criminal justice fines and fees disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income Americans.
McDonald had received several traffic tickets, including many for driving without a license, which he could not obtain due to financial holds. When McDonald went to court to take care of his tickets, the judge refused to give him community service even though McDonald lived below the poverty line. Instead, the judge put him on a payment plan for $50 a month.
This joint report by Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project evaluates how often fine-only offenses - offenses punishable only by a fine and no jail sentence – in fact subject Texans to jail time and suspensions of driver’s licenses or the inability to renew a license or register a vehicle because of their inability to pay.
This video discusses how New Orleans residents get trapped in the city’s court system because of their lack of financial means.
This report documents the amount New Orleans residents pay in bail, fines and fees, traces where the money goes, and calculates how much the city spends to jail people who cannot pay.
On a rainy night, James took shelter under a bridge and was arrested for criminal trespass. Mr. Thomas was found guilty and assessed court costs. He advised the clerk of his circumstances and never heard anything else about the outstanding debt until 2016, when he was denied a Tennessee’s driver’s license.
ArchCity Defenders organized a court watching program at the Davidson County General Sessions Criminal Court in Nashville on Monday, September 12, 2016. The goal of the program was to learn more about the administration of right to counsel in misdemeanor courts in Nashville, and to learn if defendants were being incarcerated for inability to pay fines and fees.
She was a single black woman, age 37, with three children, ages 14, 10, and 8. Her disabled grandmother also lived with her. She worked two jobs to take care of her family and brought home just under $1200 monthly. After paying rent of $715, she had very little left to meet everyone’s needs. She reported having been to Court 1A five times in the past two years, facing charges of driving on a suspended license.
During his search for new employment, Stinnie received four traffic citations that totaled $1002.00 in fines and fees. He was unable to pay, and his license was suspended. The first time he knew his license had been suspended was when he was stopped and cited by the police for driving with a suspended driver’s license.
Rozzie Scott, a resident of Bogalusa, Louisiana was found guilty of stealing $5 worth of food to feed his family. Judge Black ordered him to pay $450 in court fines and fees.