FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss participated in a Smart on Crime Innovations Conference panel about eliminating “user fees” in the justice system.
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.
The American Bar Association developed ten guidelines to ensure that fines and fees do not punish people disproportionately for their poverty.
This report documents that the families of children charged with crimes are forced to pay for the cost of legal counsel in all but 10 U.S. states – despite the Constitution’s guarantee that young people who are indigent are entitled to court-appointed counsel.
In the summer of 2018, New Orleans became the first city in the South to abolish fees charged to youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
James Brooks paid Leaders in Community Alternatives, a private probation company, $1,629 for 58 days to avoid jail and to continue to be able to care for his ill mother.
This report is a result of a comprehensive review of New Jersey municipal courts by the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines, and Fees.
Jane Doe was driving and arrived at a traffic checkpoint operated by the Buffalo Police Department. Because she lacked a harness for her children's booster seats, she was assessed eight points on her driver’s license, $446 in fines and $450 for a Driver Responsibility Assessment. During this time, Ms. Doe was a full time student with no income. BTVA refused to accept partial payments or provide a payment plan. Unable to pay, her learner’s permit was suspended. In 2018, she used her tax refund to pay her traffic tickets and reinstate her permit.
Hilda Brucker received citations for rotted wood and chipped paint, weeds in her yard and ivy on her trees, and cracks in her driveway.
In 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Financial Justice Project, and Mayor’s Office of Budget and Public Policy studied the collateral consequences of criminal justice administrative fees on San Franciscans. Their findings were published in this report, which also coincides with 2018 San Francisco County legislation that abolished all discretionary fees imposed by the county.