CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Courts Look to Fines and Fees in Tough Budget Times

Valerie Gainous paid her debt to society, but almost went to jail because of a debt to Florida’s courts.

In 1996, she was convicted of writing bad checks; she paid restitution, performed community service and thought she was finished with the criminal justice system. Earlier this year, however, she received a letter from Collections Court telling her that she was once again facing jail time — this time, for failing to pay $240 in leftover court fees and fines, which she says she cannot afford.

Ms. Gainous has been caught up in her state’s exceptionally aggressive system to collect the court fines and fees that keep its judiciary system working. Judges themselves dun citizens who have fallen behind in their payments, but unlike other creditors, they can throw debtors in jail — and they do, by the thousands.

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April 6, 2009 in Cost of Crime, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)