Archive for May 20th, 2014


I have written before about the inherent injustice of leveling fines and fees in criminal cases, which is painless for the rich and devastating to the poor. Driving home last night I heard an NPR report on the matter, which went into this outrage with some depth. I muttered “God damn” many times listening to the program. From the transcript:

A yearlong NPR investigation found that the costs of the criminal justice system in the United States are paid increasingly by the defendants and offenders. It’s a practice that causes the poor to face harsher treatment than others who commit identical crimes and can afford to pay. Some judges and politicians fear the trend has gone too far.

A state-by-state survey conducted by NPR found that defendants are charged for many government services that were once free, including those that are constitutionally required. For example:

*In at least 43 states and the District of Columbia, defendants can be billed for a public defender.
*In at least 41 states, inmates can be charged room and board for jail and prison stays.
*In at least 44 states, offenders can get billed for their own probation and parole supervision.
*And in all states except Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, there’s a fee for the electronic monitoring devices defendants and offenders are ordered to wear.

This was part of a series. You can read/listen to the whole thing here:


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