This report examines in detail the collateral consequences of Alabama’s court debt system and explores the ways in which it undermines public safety and drives the state’s racial wealth divide.
This report was published by the Kansas Supreme Court following a rigorous assessment of Kansas municipal court practices. It advances 18 recommendations for judges and courts to more fairly and constitutionally impose and enforce fines and fees and outlines an implementation plan for reform.
This case challenges the state of Oregon’s policy of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees for traffic violations.
Taja Collier was forced to sell blood plasma to pay diversion fees for a marijuana treatment program after being pulled over with a small amount of marijuana.
Ms. Phares was convicted of failure to pay nine times and sentenced to 30 days in jail seven times. She entered a treatment program in 2017 and is now drug-free. In 2018, Ms. Phares completed three months of temporary work, bringing home her first paycheck since her son died. She still owes $15000 in court debt. No inquiry was ever made as to her ability to pay.
Mrs. Mahoney was held for 42 days on a cash bail of $1315 because she was unable to pay a failure to appear charge. The charge was later dropped. However, to avoid imprisonment on a contempt charge, she pled guilty and this resulted in $20,000 additional debt.
Arkansas secures payment of court debt through incarceration, driver’s license suspensions, and probation, for which an additional fee is charged.
The American Bar Association developed ten guidelines to ensure that fines and fees do not punish people disproportionately for their poverty.
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 case alleges that Lexington County operates a modern-day debtors’ prison pursuant to a Default Payment Policy and a Trial in Abstentia Policy.