During the summer of 2018, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice voted to reduce the price of phone calls made from Texas prisons. Previously, incarcerated people paid an average of $0.26 per minute to call their loved ones; now the rate is $0.06 per minute, and the time limit for calls was increased from 20 to 30 minutes.
Starting in 2018, Texas’ Office of Court Administration (OCA) made changes to the rule that requires Texas counties and cities with a population of 100,000 or more to implement a Collection Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP webpage also includes a variety of sample language for court and program staff to use, including “Sample Payment Plan Application” and “Sample First Written Notice.”
This bill aims to improve the fairness of the Texas criminal justice system’s response to defendants’ inability to pay fines and fees in criminal cases, particularly in traffic and city ordinance violations.
This review of law and policy is the first-year report of a five-year study comprising quantitative and qualitative research that provides a detailed understanding of how fines and fees are imposed and enforced across the United States.
This joint report by Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project evaluates how often fine-only offenses - offenses punishable only by a fine and no jail sentence – in fact subject Texans to jail time and suspensions of driver’s licenses or the inability to renew a license or register a vehicle because of their inability to pay.
Levi Lane owed $4300.49 in traffic warrants. He was arrested for his inability to pay fines and fees. Mr. Lane was incarcerated for 24 days.
This case challenged the City of El Paso’s payment policy for Class C misdemeanors – usually parking tickets.
Amarillo residents were jailed through the City’s “pay or lay” policy. It stated, “…except as otherwise provided, the Court shall require the defendant to remain in custody… until the fine, State imposed fees and other penalties are paid."
This seminal report examines fines and fees practices in the fifteen U.S. states with the highest prison populations, focusing on “user fees” and their impact on individuals reentering society after incarceration.