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.
Tina Marie was convicted of failure to pay nine times and sentenced to 30 days in jail seven times. She entered a treatment program in 2017 and is now drug-free. In 2018, Tina Marie completed three months of temporary work, bringing home her first paycheck since her son died. She still owes $15000 in court debt. No inquiry was ever made as to her ability to pay.
Sharon McGee was 16 years old when she was stopped by a police officer and ticketed for not completely stopping at a stop sign. At the time, McGee was working a minimum wage job and living on her own.
James Brooks paid Leaders in Community Alternatives, a private probation company, $1,629 for 58 days to avoid jail and to continue to be able to care for his ill mother.