Several U.S. states are eliminating criminal fines and fees for people who can’t afford them. Getty ImagesIn today’s American criminal legal system, courts impose fines and fees as a means to punish people and hold them accountable for legal violations.
At times, people are sentenced to pay without incarceration, but frequently people across the U.S. are sentenced to both jail time and fiscal penalties. Those costs are assessed by individual courts and include processing and filing charges, jury fees and fiscal penalties such as interest charges and late penalty fees. The collected money is then used to pay for costs such as the administration of court-appointed attorneys, probation, detention and diversion programs.
But these fines and fees are often levied without any consideration for an individual’s ability to pay – and can add up to thousands of dollars. Given the potential consequences of legal debt on people unable to pay, including