This report is the first publication in a three-part series entitled “Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Comprehensive Project for Reform.” It provides an overview of the many types of fines and fees that the criminal justice system imposes and the collateral consequences that can result from them, with a particular emphasis on racial and economic disparities.
This Guide for Policy Reform by Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program is organized into four issue areas: conflicts of interest, poverty penalties and poverty traps (when people are forced to pay more or face harsher sanctions because of their poverty), the ability-to-pay determination, and transparency and accountability. Under each of these sections, a description of the problem is followed by legislative, judicial, and executive reform suggestions for people at the state level to use and incorporate into their efforts.
This video provides an overview of the history of debtors’ prisons in the U.S. and features compelling commentary from citizens describing how our current system of court fines and fees put them in difficult situations and made them resort to desperate measures for survival.
Levi Lane owed $4300.49 in traffic warrants. He was arrested for his inability to pay fines and fees. Mr. Lane was incarcerated for 24 days.
At the time this report was written, by California law, counties were authorized to recoup the costs of their juvenile justice systems by charging administrative fees to juvenile defendants and their families. This policy report takes a close look at Alameda County’s system of administrative fees.
This article summarizes the research, advocacy, and communications tools the ACLU of Ohio used to successfully combat debtors’ prisons and provides guidance on how to execute similar strategies in other states.
This Act modifies provisions related to driver’s license suspensions. Specifically, it (1) terminates suspensions imposed because of a person’s failure to appear on a criminal traffic offense charged before July 1, 1990.
Over the course of 2 months and 39 interviews, the authors of this report aimed to better understand how the punishment of prison and its collateral consequences (and fines and fees in particular) affect individuals’ financial situations and stability.
On September 17, 2015, Alabama Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins opened his court session by giving two options to people who did not have the money to pay their court fines and fees: give blood, or go to jail.
This report is the result of a collaborative research project from 20 community-based organizations that studied the costs of incarceration on families across 14 states.