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 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 report provides granular data on the imposition and payment of fines and fees in Alabama. The authors gathered and analyzed 200,000 court records over the last two decades to provide a comprehensive picture of the assessments of fines and fees across the state.
This report documents how and when youth and families face fines, fees and restitution and the economic and legal consequences for failure to pay.
This national survey identified the states that charge people fees for electronic monitoring, probation or supervision, public defender and legal costs, and other criminal justice system services.
Two appellants convicted of misdemeanors offered participation in the pretrial diversion program upon payment of $230 in fees. They filed a complaint alleging removal from the program because of their inability to pay the fees is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
An indigent's equal protection rights are violated when defendants can avoid prosecution by paying a fine, without determining an individual’s ability to pay the fine.