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.
In Michigan, legislation that abolishes the state’s “driver responsibility fees” took effect on October 1, 2018. These fees were introduced in 2003 as a way to balance the state budget, and they have imposed a crushing burden on at least 350,000 drivers statewide.
Fowler’s license was suspended because she was unable to pay three traffic tickets, but she was never notified of the suspension. In the winter of 2013, her daughter developed a fever and she drove through an ice storm to take her to the hospital fearing the emergency vehicle services would take too long to come. On her way to the hospital, a police officer pulled her over. He allowed her to continue to the hospital but still issued a speeding ticket, which cost almost $600.00. She currently owes $2121 – an amount she simply could not afford.
Kitia Harris, a 25 year-old with an eight year-old daughter, suffers from interstitial cystitis, a chronic medical condition that makes her unable to work. Her driver’s license was automatically suspended because she owed $276 for unpaid court fines and fees.
This order amends ten Michigan Court Rules to ensure that defendants are not incarcerated and probation terms are not extended because of unpaid fines and fees.
Defendant argued that the imposition of court fines and fees is a tax, violated the separation of powers doctrine, and failed to comply with the Distinct Statement Clause.
On appeal, the Court found, per curiam, a trial court may not revoke a defendant’s probation and send him to prison unless there is a finding that he or she has the ability to pay restitution and is in willful default.
This report is the result of a collaborative research project from 20 community-based organizations that studied the costs of incarceration on families across 14 states.
Plaintiff’s complaint requested that the Circuit Court for the County of Macomb take superintending control over the 38th District Court, requiring Judge Carl F. Gerds III to refrain from imposing pay or stay sentences on indigent defendants who are unable to pay their court debt.
Over the course of six months in 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court Ability to Pay workgroup examined the issue of ability to pay and published a report with tools, best practices, and recommendations for judges and court staff around nonpayment incarceration.