Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, 50-State Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder – “Criminal justice debt – the system of fees and fines in the criminal justice system – has serious consequences. The Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder brings transparency to this area of significant legal complexity: it gives easier access to state laws that govern criminal justice debt and suggests policy solutions through the Criminal Justice Policy Program’s Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Guide for Policy Reform. The Reform Builder and Policy Guide are organized into the following reform areas:
- Ability to Pay – Individuals face dozens of fees and surcharges on top of high fine amounts, much of which is often imposed without regard for an individual’s ability to pay.
- Conflicts of Interest The negative impact of criminal justice debt is community wide: jurisdictions rely on fees and fines to fund basic operations, distorting the administration of justice and eroding trust. Racial disparities permeate the system.
- Poverty Penalties and Poverty Traps Financial obligations are structured in a way that impose the harshest effects on the poorest defendants, leading to vicious cycles of ballooning debt, loss of driver’s licenses, jail time, and other harms for non-payment of that debt.
- Transparency – Additional data collection, analysis, and reporting of system-wide practices will shine light on these practices…” [h/t Mary Whisner]