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.
Plaintiffs alleged that the Sherwood’s “hot check” court routinely jailed indigent persons unable to pay court fines and fees without inquiry into their ability to pay.
In this essay, Marsh and Gerrick challenge the most common justification for why debtors’ prisons still exist in present-day America: generating revenue to fund local government and courts. The authors argue that revenue generation is an “incomplete explanation” for debtor’s prisons and point to a variety of other factors that could help complete the picture.
This Act reduces the amount of fees charged to individuals who receive a minor traffic or municipal ordinance violation and changes the procedure for charging fines and fees to people who receive minor traffic or municipal ordinance violations.
The YourSTL Courts site is a free online tool that provides basic information about courthouses, courthouse visits, and community service judgments and allows St. Louis County residents to determine if they have outstanding tickets.
Over the course of six months in 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court Ability to Pay workgroup examined the issue of ability to pay and published a report with tools, best practices, and recommendations for judges and court staff around nonpayment incarceration.
In this video, John Oliver details the devastating impacts that low-income Americans suffer due to fines and fees and the involvement of private probation companies.
This Act significantly modifies various provisions related to local government revenue in Missouri, including the imposition and enforcement of fines and fees in municipal courts. The Act imposed a 20% cap on municipal court revenue from fines and fees everywhere in the state except St. Louis County, where the cap was 12.5%.
This report examines the impact of the Florida Legislature’s decision to levy “user fees” on people accused and convicted of traffic violations, misdemeanors and felonies without providing exemptions for the indigent.