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The Burden of Criminal Justice Debt in Alabama

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.

Hawaii §706-641: Criteria for imposing fines

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.”

State v. Blazina, et al.

Mr. Blazina was sentenced to 20 months in prison for second degree assault. Attached to his sentence was over $3000 in fees and tens of thousands of dollars in restitution. The Washington Supreme Court held that individualized inquiries of the defendant’s current and future ability to pay must be made before imposing Legal Financial Obligations.

Johnson v. State

Included in the appellant’s sentence was “court costs” of $234. The appellant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the amount of the costs.

Thomas v. City of Gulfport

Harrison County Jail was a modern day debtors’ prison. Officers went to predominantly African American neighborhoods arbitrarily checking people to see if they had paid their court fines and fees.
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