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Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/how-reliance-fees-and-charges-funds-us-criminal-justice-weakens-public-faith-poor-communities\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n How Reliance on Fees and Charges to Funds U.S. Criminal Justice Weakens Public Faith in Poor Communities\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholar\/alexes-harris\u0022\u003EAlexes Harris\u003C\/a\u003E, University of Washington\n \u003Cp\u003E\n In the United States, the judicial system relies heavily on fines, court-user fees, surcharges, assessments, interest, and collection and per-payment fees to fund everything from local law enforcement departments to county jails. Even some municipal services not connected to law enforcement are paid for by fines and fees imposed on citizens accused of breaking the law.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n What are these charges?\u0026nbsp; All states allow for the imposition of fines on convicted defendants. Associated fees can include charges related to the processing of warrants, criminal lab costs, court and prosecution time, and expenses incurred by juries and witnesses. Other commonly imposed charges include fees for the use of a public defender, court costs for paperwork and filing fees, probation supervision fees, and the cost of incarceration itself.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n It may seem to make sense to fund the courts with fees paid by accused people, but since the majority of the accused have low income, the model quickly breaks down.\u0026nbsp; Accused people who cannot pay charges in full rack up debt \u2013 and if enough fees remain unpaid, they can be incarcerated.\u0026nbsp; In essence, such indebted defendants are jailed for being too poor to pay. \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EExtra-Legal Consequences for Those Who Cannot Pay\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n In the current judicial system, monetary sanctions are often imposed with no regard to people\u2019s ability to pay \u2013 even homeless people are saddled with these charges, as are people struggling with mental illness and drug and alcohol addictions. Recent cases suggest that even victims of domestic violence can be charged fees if they decide not to help with the prosecution of their abusers. What is more, many jurisdictions charge interest on all fiscal penalties and also impose annual collection surcharges.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Fines and fees are not only imposed on serious law violators, but on people who are guilty of little more than traffic violations. Many people who make contact with U.S. systems of justice are already poor, unemployed, and under-educated; for them fiscal penalties become a permanent punishment via crushing debt, poor credit, and re-incarceration for unpaid fees.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n The state of California, for example, imposes a 20 percent surcharge on all traffic tickets, an additional 100 percent State Penalty Assessment surcharge, a 90 percent County Penalty Assessment surcharge, a 50 percent State Court Construction surcharge, and a surcharge of 40 percent called a \u201cDNA Identification Fund Penalty Assessment.\u201d On top of such charges, non-payment of traffic tickets frequently results in license suspension and, eventually, full revocation for a fixed period of time. Driving with a suspended license can result in incarceration, particularly for those living and driving in communities that are heavily surveilled by police.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n This two-tiered system of justice, where some law violators have to pay impossibly high fees, charges, and penalties \u2013 leads to a loss of faith in the police and criminal justice. Low-income communities and people of color are especially hard hit and likely to lose faith in the system. The imposition of so many extra monetary sanctions to fund criminal justice helps make the U.S. system an illegitimate enterprise in the eyes of poor communities. \u0026nbsp;\u0026nbsp;\u0026nbsp;\u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ch3\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EToward a Truly Equitable System\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/h3\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Entrenched dependence on fees and charges to fund the justice system creates barriers to needed improvements. Monetary sanctions employed by states and local jurisdictions have supported mass conviction and incarceration for more than forty years. In this period the United States has seen a \u003Cem\u003E500 percent\u003C\/em\u003E increase in the number of people living behind bars. States need to stop shifting the cost of justice to the clients of justice, and should instead search for ways to reduce their criminal justice budgets by creating a realistic system of punishment for the poor, and prioritizing public safety.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EStates need to eliminate all non-restitution fines, fees, surcharges, assessments, and interest and collection charges in state superior criminal courts.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003ESanctions should punish poor defendants who are guilty of offenses but allow them to be held accountable without building massive debts they cannot pay.\u0026nbsp; For example, traffic fines and municipal-level citations could be subject to a \u201cDay Fine\u201d system in which fines are calculated so they are proportional to the average daily wage of the defendant prior to arrest and increase with severity depending on the nature of the convicted offense.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EStates should prioritize deterrence of crime rather than just punishments for crimes already committed. Social programs that assist people with education, employment, housing, food, and treatment for substance abuse are proven methods of alleviating the causes of crime.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EJudicial resources should be allocated primarily to secure public safety, with emphasis on serious violent offenses. Decriminalizing low-impact offenses like the recreational use of marijuana can allow law enforcement to concentrate resources on more serious threats. What is more, marijuana legalization has allowed states like Washington and Colorado to generate millions in sales tax revenues. \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Policy changes along these lines could create realistic reforms in U.S. judicial systems. Law breakers could be held accountable in realistic ways, while support is provided to head off potential offenses and prevent repeat infractions by low-level offenders. Such measures would both better protect the public and help to build faith in law enforcement in low-income and minority communities.\u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u201cFollow the money\u201d is always wise advice when researchers want to better understand the workings and pathologies of key institutions.\u0026nbsp; Finding better ways to finance the U.S. justice system would do a great deal to make that system work well for everyone in America.\u0026nbsp; By implementing much-needed changes to arrangements over-reliant on unfair and unrealistic fees and charges imposed on often-impoverished defendants, the United States could move toward a more efficient, effective and ethical system of justice for all.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003ERead more in Alexes Harris, \u003Cem\u003EA Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as a Punishment for the Poor\u003C\/em\u003E (Russell Sage, 2016).\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022left\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholars.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholars.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022right\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n November 2017\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/how-reliance-fees-and-charges-funds-us-criminal-justice-weakens-public-faith-poor-communities\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=40657\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]