This report is a culmination of a year of research that involved interviews conducted with 380 people who made contact with systems of justice in eight states and were assessed fines and fees.
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.
Demetrice Moore is a certified nursing assistant and mother of two children. In 2002, she was convicted of grand larceny, and sentenced to jail and to pay court costs, including the cost of the lawyer appointed to represent her because she was indigent. She served her jail time, but was unable to pay the court costs she owed, which resulted in the automatic suspension of her Virginia driver’s license.
This report analyzes the first nine months of the Phoenix Municipal Court’s driver’s license reinstatement pilot - the Compliance Assistance Program (CAP) - and calculates the economic impacts of both the suspension and reinstatement of driver’s licenses on individuals and the Phoenix community, including wages and GDP.
Amy Marie Palacios is a single mother with two children, who earned $20,090 in 2016 - below the federal poverty line for her three-person household. Her driver’s license was suspended in 2015 because she failed to pay the fine for a speeding ticket.
Ms. Corder drove to work with a suspended license because her job was her only source of income. She was stopped by law enforcement, received three new citations, and her car was impounded. As a result, she owed $1320 in fines and fees.
Kitia Harris, a 25 year-old with an eight year-old daughter, suffers from interstitial cystitis, a chronic medical condition that makes her unable to work. Her driver’s license was automatically suspended because she owed $276 for unpaid court fines and fees.
This report is based on the authors’ research on traffic courts and driver’s license suspension practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. It details how much revenue courts collect from fines and fees, the harmful impacts those fees have on low-income Californians, and also advances several policy reform recommendations.
In late 2016, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors directed the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector to create a Fines and Fees Task Force (staffed by the Treasurer’s Financial Justice Project) to study the impact of fines and fees on San Franciscans & propose relevant reforms. About six months later, the Task Force published this initial report in order to provide an overview of fines and fees in San Francisco as well as an array of reform recommendations.
This report from the Berkeley Policy Advocacy Clinic details California counties’ practice of assessing and collecting fees from families with youth in the California juvenile justice system. California abolished juvenile fees in 2018.