Dream Corps

Overview of Campaign

Post-incarceration fines and fees keep people chained to the justice system and hinder their reentry journey.

Fines and fees differ, can be exorbitant, and often accumulate interest over time. For many, the inability to cover the high cost of fines and fees while trying to also afford safe housing, transportation, utilities, and basic needs can lead to years—or even decades—of crippling debt.

The hardship imposed by fines and fees is not limited to those who have been incarcerated. Even the inability to afford a simple traffic violation can add up with skyrocketing interest costs, making it increasingly more challenging to make ends meet. 

COVID-19 has impacted the lives of Americans in ways that will not fully be known until well after this pandemic has ended. Across the country, COVID-19 relief has been passed through eviction moratoriums, stimulus checks, & student loan forbearance. Yet millions of people impacted by the criminal justice system are chained to fines and fees and are still without relief.

Urge Governors in Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Oregon to Relieve Fines & Fees

Dream Corps JUSTICE is calling on the governors of Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Oregon to immediately forgive all fines and fees. This is an action that can be done without going through the state legislature. JUSTICE is working with a diverse collection of activists and organizers on the ground to bring support for this request to each governor. By forgiving the fines and fees debt of people struggling to make ends meet, we hope to bring much-needed economic relief to people living in these states, and then expand our work across the country.

Sign The Petitions

Share Their Stories: Organizers Leading The Fight

Policy Solutions

We urge governors and elected officials across the country to significantly reduce the role fines and fees play in our state governments. Our partners at Fines and Fees Justice Center have put forth policy recommendations on how we can bring wider relief to individuals while COVID-19 continues to impact so many.

  1. Discharge all outstanding fines, fees, and court debt.
  2. Where full discharge is not yet feasible, state and local jurisdictions and courts should immediately implement the following policies until 180 days after the end of the State of Emergency within their jurisdictions and until local unemployment levels are below 8% overall, and within each community of color:
    • Suspend the collection of all court debt including but not limited to: payments due under payment plans; payments associated with parole and probation; wage garnishment; property liens; off-sets of tax refunds, unemployment insurance, and other public benefits, especially those related to housing
    • Cease issuing and enforcing warrants for unpaid fines and fees or for failure to appear at a hearing addressing unpaid fines and fees.
    • Stop sending delinquent cases to private collection companies and direct private collection companies to stop all collection efforts.
    • Stop imposing penalties for late or missed payments of fines, fees, and court debt.
    • Suspend interest on unpaid fines, fees, and court debt. Stop sending delinquent cases to private collection companies, and direct private collection companies and probation and parole officers to stop all collection efforts.
    • Stop imposing penalties for late or missed payments of fines, fees, and court debt.
    • Suspend interest on unpaid fines, fees, and court debt.
  3. Refuse to add any new criminal justice fines and fees or increase the dollar amount of any existing fines and fees.
  4. Refuse to budget for the collection of additional revenue from existing categories of fines and fees.
  5. Waive or reduce any fines or fees imposed, recognizing people’s precarious financial circumstances.
  6. End driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees and failure to appear for a court hearing. Reinstate driver’s licenses that have been suspended for non-safety reasons. Law enforcement officers should release individuals with a warning who are driving on a suspended license where the reason for the suspension is not related to public safety.
  7. Local governments should stop issuing parking tickets and municipal code violations that do not impact public safety, and stop booting, towing, and impounding vehicles for unpaid fines and fees.
  8. Jurisdictions should proactively and widely communicate any changes made in their fines and fees policies.
  9. Jurisdictions should enact equitable revenue solutions that do not disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.

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