This issue brief discusses how fines and fees harm communities and puts forward several strategies that prosecutors can use to mitigate these harms.
Defendants in the Gardendale Municipal Court are placed on probation when they are unable to pay court fines and fees in full. Professional Probation Services, Inc. (PPS) is the sole probation provider through a contract with the City and the Municipal Court judge. PPS charges a $40 monthly fee which is paid before the court’s fines and fees.
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.
County Clerks in Tennessee automatically suspend the driver’s license of persons who fail to pay their traffic debt within a 30-90 day window.
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.