The City of Ferguson jails people when they cannot afford to pay their traffic debt and cash bonds for other minor offenses. No inquiry is made into the person’s ability to pay, no alternatives to payment are offered to the individuals, and no counsel is provided.
This case challenges the constitutionality of the warrant recall fee, letter fee, and failure to appear fee imposed by Ferguson Municipal Court, alleging that these fees were enacted for profit and not to promote the welfare of the public.
This Act significantly modifies various provisions related to local government revenue in Missouri, including the imposition and enforcement of fines and fees in municipal courts. The Act imposed a 20% cap on municipal court revenue from fines and fees everywhere in the state except St. Louis County, where the cap was 12.5%.
This study explains how the current lack of uniformity in funding of Alabama’s courts, even after the 1973 establishment of the Unified Judicial System (UJS), warrants a second wave of reform.
Unable to pay debt from traffic tickets, impoverished defendants were given the options of paying the debt immediately or sitting out their debt in jail at the rate of $50.00 a day. Those in jail were given the further option of performing janitorial services at the rate of $25.00 a day. No inquiry was made as to the defendant’s ability to pay.
This video by Human Rights Watch shows how private probation companies can strip people of basic necessities and jail them because they can’t afford to pay their court debt and exorbitant probation fees.
Foster Cook’s report includes quantitative and qualitative survey results from 943 participants from 13 counties in Alabama. The report includes information about the collateral consequences of increased court costs on incarcerated people in Alabama, including harsh penalties for nonpayment and the phenomenon of defendants turning to crime as a funding source to pay their fines and fees.
The SPLC filed a lawsuit challenging Cleveland’s and Watts’ incarceration as a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution.
This Hawaii law specifies criteria that must be satisfied before a court can sentence a person to pay a fine. If the fine is the only punishment included in a sentence, the court cannot assess the fine unless “the person is or will be able to pay the fine,” and “the fine will not prevent the defendant from making restitution to the victim.”
Stearns examines the imposition and enforcement of Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) in Washington State on people unable to pay them and argues that the resulting disparities impact the ability of the criminal justice system to impose fair and meaningful penalties that hold people accountable and reduce recidivism.