Wilson owes Alabama thousands of dollars for a crime which she served her sentence for more than 10 years ago. Her license is suspended and she can’t afford to get it re-instated.
Angela Dabney, 40, of Montgomery, is terrified of law enforcement. A single mother of three children, she has three outstanding Failure to Appear warrants for traffic tickets she cannot afford to pay. She says she has never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, but she does not have the money to pay her tickets or even afford to keep up with the payment plan she was assigned.
FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss was invited to testify at a New York City Council hearing, “The Cost of Justice,” about fines and fees in NYC courts.
FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss participated in a Smart on Crime Innovations Conference panel about eliminating “user fees” in the justice system.
This case challenges the state of Oregon’s policy of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees for traffic violations.
Bermudez owed $2,812.38 in court debt and her driver’s license was suspended. She could not afford to keep up with the court’s payment plan because she already struggled to buy necessities for herself and her children. She continued to drive with a suspended driver’s license to take her children to the school, to get to work, to buy groceries and other basic things. There was no reasonable alternative for her.
Mendoza owed $11,282.77 to three courts. It was impossible for her to pay that amount to have her license reinstated. It was difficult for her to find work near her home so she was forced to drive on a suspended license.
In Tennessee, Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk announced that he will stop prosecuting driver's license violations that result from failure to pay fines and fees, such as driving on a suspended license. His office predicts that this policy change could keep 12,000 charges out of Nashville courtrooms over the next year.
Washington, D.C. has the opportunity to lead the nation in fines and fees reform: for Washington Post’s Opinion section, FFJC Co-Director Joanna Weiss and Tzedek DC’s Ariel Levinson-Waldman support legislation …
Fuller received a ticket for an expired inspection sticker. Because he entered an inpatient rehabilitation program, he missed the hearing for his ticket. When he later appeared in court, the judge informed him that he was charged with failure to appear and that he needed to pay the full amount of the fines and fees he owed. No inquiry was made as to his ability to pay.