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 guide aims to inform litigators about various strategies to defend and gain relief for individual clients burdened by criminal justice debt. It also serves to foster communication and understanding among stakeholders who work in this particular area of the justice system.
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.
This 2015 Orlando Sentinel article describes how waiving surcharges assessed by collection agencies for one weekend led the Orange County Clerk of Courts to lower the rate these companies could charge going forward.
To finance its carceral system, the United States government levies taxes on the country’s most impoverished strata. Although those involved in the justice system are typically low-income individuals, they are …
This seminal report examines fines and fees practices in the fifteen U.S. states with the highest prison populations, focusing on “user fees” and their impact on individuals reentering society after incarceration.