Local and state governments should fund the police and criminal justice system through general revenues or widespread forms of financing instead of using fines and fees, writes Gene B. Sperling, former director of the National Economic Council, in an op ed for The New York Times.
Maryland lawmakers are meeting Wednesday to debate proposed legislation that would end home monitoring costs and prohibit state-funded pretrial services from charging defendants. These fees are even more burdensome to poor people during a public health crisis, write Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore State’s Attorney, and Priya Sarathy Jones, National Policy and Campaigns Director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center.
In 2016, San Francisco became the first city and county in the nation to reexamine a system of court costs that imposed a crushing burden on tens of thousands of low-income residents. Nearly four years later, it reports impressive results.
As state and local governments take a financial hit during COVID-19, some localities are relying on a tried-and-true revenue stream: the court system and the predominantly low-income people who churn through it.
A recent state Supreme Court order set in motion measures to end some money bonds and stop penalizing people for failure to pay court fines and fees in an effort to slash jail populations. Other states have followed suit in a trend long recommended by advocates. But will it last once the pandemic is over?
Although Curtis Lovelace was acquitted in the 2006 murder of his wife, he was still saddled with a hefty county administrative fee. Local court systems across the country depend on such fees for badly needed revenue, but are they fair?
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 376,000 drivers have their license suspended for failure to pay or respond. The state legislature is considering amnesty, along with a community service option, to help motorists escape the escalating cycle of fines and fees.