In this report, the Criminal Justice Policy Program (CJPP) at Harvard Law School proposes a framework where courts would impose means-adjusted fines as a proportionate sentence for an offense. The authors assert that by adopting the proposed recommendations, courts can ease or prevent the worst harms that excessive financial sanctions create for poor people without waiting for legislative reforms.
The Vera Institute’s “Paid in Full” report outlines a path towards fines and fees reform, summarizing relevant reform litigation and detailing specific steps that the city of New Orleans can take to reduce the harms of pre-trial and conviction fees.
Nichole, a rural California resident, received four tickets during a single traffic stop, costing her $4000. When she could not afford to pay this total amount, her license was suspended. This court debt was such a burden that it prevented her from paying her electric bill, causing her utilities to be shut off and her landlord to evict her.
The imposition of unaffordable probation fees punishes poverty and places them at risk of being jailed when they cannot pay. Most states charge monthly probation fees, while others use “reasonableness” …