John was arrested for driving with a suspended license in December 1999 and given $400 in court fines, fees, and costs. It wasn’t until February 2018 – nearly 20 years after he was originally arrested – that he finally completed his sentence by spending 20 days in jail to pay down his debt.
Andria Collins is a mother raising eight children in Oklahoma City, OK. She has been struggling with court debt and drivers’ license suspensions for over a decade.
In this article for The Poynter Institute, Al Tompkins underscores the importance of journalists covering local jails and suggests several coverage angles that journalists can use to convince readers to care more about incarceration at the local level.
This Oklahoma bill, which did not pass, would have amended statutes related to life without parole sentences, payment plans for fines and fees, and how the requirement of restitution can affect conditions of supervision.
For individuals who are unable to pay their fines and fees, their total debt may be cited and entered into the district court judgement docket. A judge may also replace fines and fees with court-ordered community service (credited at a minimum rate of at least federal minimum wage), if community service doesn’t cause undue hardship.