Over the past two decades, the use of fines, fees, surcharges and other monetary costs in the criminal justice system has expanded rapidly, particularly for misdemeanors and minor infractions. In many jurisdictions, these fees, court costs and surcharges accruing for even a minor infraction can run to hundreds of dollars. These fees are rarely tailored to an individual’s financial circumstances, yet, in many jurisdictions, failure to pay can result in an arrest warrant, jail time, the suspension of a driver’s license and/or the deprivation of fundamental rights, including the right to vote. In the wake of increased awareness of these fees and their impact on vulnerable populations, many are calling for reform.
This program examines the issue of fees and their impact on defendants, as well as the legislative reforms proposed or instituted in several jurisdictions. This program also examines the future of court fee reform in light of the pandemic and its impact on courts and budgets.