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Fees paid by offenders

"Building on the Administration¹s commitment to criminal justice reform, the convening will bring together federal officials, state legislators and judges, advocates and academics to discuss criminal justice system practices that too often contribute to the cycle of poverty and create significant barriers to reentry. Co-hosted by the Department of Justice, the convening will provide a collaborative environment to discuss and share ideas on how State and local stakeholders across the United States can implement common sense reforms so that financial obligations imposed by the government do not lead to unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system or exacerbate poverty." Critical issues addressed during this meeting include: the increasing use of fines, fees, and bail; the disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and families; fines and fees—an ineffective way to raise funds for incarceration costs. This website provides access to both versions of this White House convening, transcript of Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, report from the President's Council of Economic Advisors on Fees, Fines, and Bail, a National Journal article about the event, and background materials.

A Cycle of Incarceration: Prison, Debt, and Bail Practices [Webinar] Cover

"As the use of fixed monetary penalties has increased, many observers have raised concerns about the equity, legality and efficiency of these regressive payments. At the same time, meaningful reforms could increase equity without sacrificing deterrent impacts of these payments or the goal of supporting criminal justice operations … [This document examines] the use and impact of fines, fees and bail, and highlight[s] potential options for reform" (p. 2). Sections cover: what fines, fees, and bail are; fines and fees—rising criminal justice budgets have motivated growth in these, the use and size of fees have increased over time, fines and fees are regressive payments that disproportionately impact the poor, fines and fees impose large financial and human costs on poor offenders, collection of fines and fees is often inefficient, reforming fines and fees could potentially increase both equity and efficiency; and bail—the use and size of bail bonds has increased over time, leading to increased pretrial detention of defendants leading to increased pretrial detention of defendants, bail assignments are regressive, leading to pretrial detention of the poorest rather than the most dangerous defendants, pretrial detention of low risk offenders is costly to taxpayers and defendants, and a number of bail reform options could both increase fairness and reduce pretrial misconduct.

Fines, Fees, and Bail Cover

If you are thinking of implementing pay-for-stay, then you need to read this article. "With the explosive correctional growth, state correctional costs have skyrocketed in the last four decades. While it is understandable that governments would look to recoup these costs, advocates and scholars have long argued that it represents bad policy. However, less work has been done to challenge the legality of this practice, perhaps because courts have historically been so unfriendly to these types of challenges. This essay suggests that exploring the constitutional implications of charging inmates for goods, services, and even their stay behind bars could help to build the case for policy change around the nation. Specifically, legal academics could provide persuasive support for this area of advocacy by reexamining the legality of the current systems of fees and fines under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. Even if courts continue to strike down these legal arguments, policymakers may finally take heed of such compelling evidence that this practice may potentially violate the U.S. Constitution" (p. 1). This article is divided into these parts: "introduction"; "History of Inmate Fees"--history of inmate fees and pay-to-stay practices, rationales for implementing inmate fees, types of pay-to-stay, and policy objections; "Toward a New Litigation Strategy"—Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment, forfeiture cases examined under the Excessive Fines Clause, the seminal constitutional case in jail fee jurisprudence being Tillman v. Lebanon County Correctional Facility, and further litigation inquiries; and conclusion.

Paying for Your Time: How Charging Inmates Fees Behind Bars May Violate the Excessive Fines Clause Cover

The "authors discuss the long-term and unintended consequences of criminal justice financial obligations (CJFOs): fines, forfeiture of property, court fees, supervision fees, and restitution." [They] "describe trends in the assessment of CJFOs, discuss the historical context within which these trends have unfolded, and reflect on their unintended (but perhaps easily foreseen) consequences. We then treat restitution separately, given the distinct function (in theory at least) that restitution serves. We also raise serious concerns about how restitution tends to be implemented and who benefits from this particular obligation. We end by considering alternative models for the effective and fair deployment of fines, fees and restitution in the criminal justice context" (p. 2).

Shackled to Debt Cover
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