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.
This issue brief discusses how fines and fees harm communities and puts forward several strategies that prosecutors can use to mitigate these harms.
Velia Duenas, a homeless, married mother of two children, had her license suspended because she was unable to pay $1088 for three juvenile citations. She continued to drive, received three misdemeanor convictions, and spent 141 days in jail because she was unable to pay the fines.
This case study of municipal courts in Colorado is based on a multi-year ACLU investigation which revealed that despite a bipartisan reform effort in the state legislature, many of Colorado’s municipal courts persistently ignore both constitutional standards and state law and continue to employ practices that punish defendants for their poverty.
Appellant was held in contempt and incarcerated for failure to pay his court fines and fees without any inquiry into his ability to pay. The appellant mentioned that his sibling may be able to pay, but no further inquiry was made by the court. He was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment with credit for time served and a $200 fee to purge the contempt.
This Ohio bill establishes the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative, a six-month driver’s license reinstatement fee debt reduction and amnesty program.
In this report, Mario Salas and Angela Ciolfi analyze driver’s license suspension policies in all 50 states and describe the harmful consequences of “license-for-payment” systems.
Plaintiffs allege that defendant’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses indefinitely until all court fines and fees are paid regardless of ability to pay violates equal protection and due process.
In Thompson v. State of Florida, the plaintiff, an indigent mother of three, had her probation revoked for failure to pay fines and fees.
This court rule establishes a “sliding scale of indigency” and advises judges to reduce or waive fees that would pose an undue burden on defendants.