This study assesses the use of fines and fees for misdemeanor crimes in Nevada and Iowa to highlight the perverse incentives embedded in the practice of using courts as revenue centers. The article proposes the concept of “monetary myopia,” or a short-sighted focus on revenue at the expense of other concerns, to explain the states’ behavior.
In 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Financial Justice Project, and Mayor’s Office of Budget and Public Policy studied the collateral consequences of criminal justice administrative fees on San Franciscans. Their findings were published in this report, which also coincides with 2018 San Francisco County legislation that abolished all discretionary fees imposed by the county.
This bench card provides guidance to North Carolina judges regarding the imposition and collection of fines and fees in criminal cases. In particular, the bench card outlines the law as applicable to court costs, attorney fees, other fees, fines, and restitution, and highlights when each obligation applies as well as when and how courts can provide relief.
This report reveals that California programs and services supported by revenue from fines and fees have been compromised by low-income motorists’ inability to pay those fines and fees.
The National Council of Juvenile Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) passed a resolution advocating for the reduction or elimination of fines and fees in juvenile courts. The resolution was published alongside a judicial bench card that outlines types of financial obligations that youth and families may encounter in juvenile and family court, details the impacts of those obligations, and explains how judges can address fines and fees in their own courtrooms. The bench card includes several practice recommendations for juvenile and family court judges.
This law review article makes the case that the Eight Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause may be a better, albeit underdeveloped, provision to address the epidemic of debtor’s prisons.
In this report, the Chicago Jobs Council describes how suspending a person’s driver’s license for unpaid fines and fees can prevent them from ever paying off their debt and destabilize their finances.
This resolution urges state legislators to limit driver’s license suspensions “to conduct that involves offenders with dangerous driving,” such as driving under the influence or committing multiple moving violations.
The Mecklenburg County working group requested the assistance of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program, which helped the group develop two bench cards. One bench card provides guidance for judges when imposing fines and fees; the other outlines a process for sanctioning defendants who fail to pay fines and fees.
This report is a culmination of a year of research that involved interviews conducted with 380 people who made contact with systems of justice in eight states and were assessed fines and fees.