The California Conference of State Court Administrators recently released a policy paper focused on policy and practice recommendations that courts can adopt to mitigate the negative impact of legal financial obligations on people who are unable to pay.
The paper covers the growth of the system of monetary sanctions and the associated collateral consequences, namely, incarceration. It also discusses the impact of relying on revenue from legal financial obligations to fund the court system and using private collection agencies.
The Tri-City Herald of Washington State published a story describing a State Supreme court case that ruled a woman should not have been ordered to use her federal disability payments to pay toward a criminal case.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) within the U.S. Department of Justice awarded about $3 million to five states under a new grant program called “The Price of Justice: Rethinking the Consequences of Justice Fines and Fees,” which supports reforms in the justice system’s responses to individuals’ inability to pay fines, fees and other monetary sanctions.
The five state recipients are the Judicial Council of California, the Judiciary Courts of the State of Louisiana, the Missouri Office of State Courts Administration, the Texas Office of Court Administration, and the Washington Minority and Justice Commission of the Washington State Courts. The Fund for the City of New York, Center for Court Innovation, will provide technical assistance to the grant recipients.
Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Comprehensive Project for Reform is a collaboration of the Criminal Justice Policy Program and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). The initiative aims to bring together and provide tools to criminal justice advocates and civil justice advocates working towards reforming the challenges posed by criminal justice debt. This initiative released three reports today.
The Urgent Need for Comprehensive Reform
An overview of the collaboration project.
A Guide for Litigation
This guide is geared toward attorneys protecting clients from the problems posed by criminal justice debt practices.
A Guide for Policy Reform
This guide provides an overview of various areas of law regarding harmful criminal justice debt practices as well as detailed policy reform strategies.
For more information on this collaboration, visit their site here.
The Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia public interest law firm for children and teens, released a report on Thursday on the issue of monetary sanctions in the juvenile justice system. It provides an overview of the problem, information on eight types of fines and fees, and potential ramifications for youth and their families.
The Juvenile Law Center released a multi-state report on the costs of fines and fees in the juvenile justice system. The report describes the types of financial obligations youth and families face, including the legal and economic consequences of failure to pay.
The Boston Review published an article describing the system of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system and the historical roots of these practices.
The Nation published a story about a lawsuit charging a judge in Bogalusa, Louisiana for running a debtor’s prison. With support from the Southern Poverty Law Center, residents filed a federal lawsuit against a city court judge for extracting financial penalties from poor defendants to finance city budgets, including the court itself.
The Atlantic published an article, The Fines and Fees That Keep Former Prisoners Poor, which covers key highlights from Alexes Harris’s book, A Pound of Flesh.
The US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center released a resource guide targeted towards executive-level decision makers to evaluate and reform their jurisdictions’ fines and fees.