Graciela is a 76-year-old caregiver who takes three different buses for five hours to get to work each day. She receives Supplemental Security Income. Her license was suspended because of unpaid Driver’s Responsibility Program (DRP) surcharges.
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.
This report examines in detail the collateral consequences of Alabama’s court debt system and explores the ways in which it undermines public safety and drives the state’s racial wealth divide.
Betty Lou owes Alabama thousands of dollars for a crime which she served her sentence for more than 10 years ago. Her license is suspended and she can’t afford to get it re-instated.
Angela, 40, of Montgomery, is terrified of law enforcement. A single mother of three children, she has three outstanding Failure to Appear warrants for traffic tickets she cannot afford to pay. She says she has never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, but she does not have the money to pay her tickets or even afford to keep up with the payment plan she was assigned.
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.
Gloria owed $2,812.38 in court debt and her driver’s license was suspended. She could not afford to keep up with the court’s payment plan because she already struggled to buy necessities for herself and her children. She continued to drive with a suspended driver’s license to take her children to the school, to get to work, to buy groceries and other basic things. There was no reasonable alternative for her.
Cindy owed $11,282.77 to three courts. It was impossible for her to pay that amount to have her license reinstated. It was difficult for her to find work near her home so she was forced to drive on a suspended license.
Teon, 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.
Brady received a ticket for an expired inspection sticker. Because he entered an inpatient rehabilitation program, he missed the hearing for his ticket. When he later appeared in court, the judge informed him that he was charged with failure to appear and that he needed to pay the full amount of the fines and fees he owed. No inquiry was made as to his ability to pay.