This bill requires the Municipal Court to appoint counsel in certain circumstances, including if a defendant is in custody or faces the possibility of custody for nonpayment of fines and fees.
Plaintiff, a 20 year old college student, was sentenced to jail because he was unable to pay a $206 statutory fine with $33 in court costs for throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window.
This report is the result of a collaborative research project from 20 community-based organizations that studied the costs of incarceration on families across 14 states.
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.
The complaint alleged that impoverished city residents were jailed solely because of their inability to pay court fines and fees from traffic and other municipal violations.
Mr. Thompson was jailed for five days due to his inability to pay fines and fees. He was not informed of his right to request court-appointed counsel, and was ultimately not provided with counsel, nor a pre-deprivation indigency hearing prior to being jailed.
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.
Unable to pay debt from traffic tickets, impoverished defendants were given the options of paying the debt immediately or sitting out their debt in jail at the rate of $50.00 a day. Those in jail were given the further option of performing janitorial services at the rate of $25.00 a day. No inquiry was made as to the defendant’s ability to pay.
Foster Cook’s report includes quantitative and qualitative survey results from 943 participants from 13 counties in Alabama. The report includes information about the collateral consequences of increased court costs on incarcerated people in Alabama, including harsh penalties for nonpayment and the phenomenon of defendants turning to crime as a funding source to pay their fines and fees.
The SPLC filed a lawsuit challenging Cleveland’s and Watts’ incarceration as a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution.