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.
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.
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.
This publication uses personal accounts of people in five different states who struggled to pay their court debt to illustrate the negative effects of debtors’ prisons on individuals, the economy, and the justice system.
This report examines the impact of the Florida Legislature’s decision to levy “user fees” on people accused and convicted of traffic violations, misdemeanors and felonies without providing exemptions for the indigent.
This article details the costs, fees, and financial assessments that may be imposed as part of a felony sentence in Michigan and the authorizing statutes.
This report explains how Maryland’s parole supervision fee works against the rehabilitative goals of the state’s supervision policies and how the $40/month fee can impede a person’s successful reentry.
This policy brief describes how often people in Rhode Island are jailed for nonpayment of court fines and fees and barriers to repayment.
Rhode Island’s most frequent cause of incarceration is court debt, which not only causes inefficient use of state finances, but disrupts people’s lives. To determine the extent to which incarceration …
This working paper details the collateral consequences of fines and fees in New York and highlights how the conflicting goals of assessing fines and fees – punishment as well as the need for revenue – can threaten criminal justice system outcomes and disproportionately impact marginalized communities.