Targeted Fines and Fees Against Low-Income Communities of Color
Sep 21, 2017

From the US Commission on Civil Rights:
On behalf of the United States Commission on  Civil Rights (“the Commission”), and pursuant to Public Law 103-419, I attach our  2017 Statutory Enforcement Report, titled Targeted Fines and Fees Against Low-Income  Communities of  Color:  Civil Rights and Constitutional Implications. The report is also available in full on  the Commission’s website at
The report examines the Department of Justice’s enforcement efforts regarding municipal court reforms with respect to the targeted imposition of fines and fees. The Commission heard testimony from  the Department of Justice, experts,  and scholars in the field and a majority of the Commission made findings  and recommendations.
Key findings include that unchecked  discretion or stringent requirements to impose fines or fees can lead and have led to discrimination and inequitable access to  justice when not exercised in accordance with the protections  afforded under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. In addition, if a jurisdiction’s primary goal is to generate revenue rather than promote public safety, it can create an  incentive for law enforcement to issue as many citations as possible, contrary  to the  pursuit of  justice. Nonetheless, many jurisdictions today require or permit courts and municipalities to impose and collect an  array of fees for criminal as well as civil justice activities in addition to  government programs unrelated to courts.
Read report

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