This 2015 report provides a comprehensive overview of how California’s approach to the enforcement of fines and fees for traffic violations creates a two-tiered justice system—those who can afford to pay escape the system, while those who are too poor to pay are trapped.
After Michael Brown was shot by a member of the Ferguson Police Department, the Department of Justice’s investigation uncovered a pattern of racially discriminatory practices by the Ferguson Police Department which were primarily rooted in the city’s dependence on the criminal justice system to raise revenue. The publication of the Ferguson report is widely viewed as the start of the movement to reform fines and fees in the U.S.
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 study explains how the current lack of uniformity in funding of Alabama’s courts, even after the 1973 establishment of the Unified Judicial System (UJS), warrants a second wave of reform.
This Arizona collections pilot program aimed to test whether a temporary reduction in fine amounts might increase court revenues.
This 2010 Justice Court Fund report from the New York State Comptroller details revenue trends in New York's local courts.
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.
Using data from traffic stops in 350 Massachusetts municipalities, the authors found that “the likelihood and dollar amounts of fines are decreasing functions of local property tax revenue”—in other words, the more cash-strapped a municipality is, the more likely police officers are to issue traffic tickets (and larger traffic tickets).
In 2007, New York’s Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts visited nearly 100 courts in every judicial district, met with hundreds of judges and court officials, and heard testimony from 85 witnesses in order to learn more about the status of New York town and village courts. This report is the product of their comprehensive, first-of-its-kind review of New York’s town and village courts.
This working paper details the collateral consequences of fines and fees in New York and highlights how the conflicting goals of assessing fines and fees – punishment as well as the need for revenue – can threaten criminal justice system outcomes and disproportionately impact marginalized communities.