Overview of Court Debt Reform:
In the past 25 years, criminal justice debt has increased dramatically as states impose fines, fees, and other costs on people who are accused of infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. More than 7 million people nationwide have had their licenses suspended for failure to pay court debt. According to research done by the Brennan Center1, since 1996, Florida has added 20 more new categories of criminal fines and fees, at the same time eliminating most of the exemptions for those who cannot afford to pay. Compounding the problem, debt not paid within 90 days is sent to private collection companies who can add up to a 40% surcharge on unpaid court debt. Florida routinely suspends driver’s licenses for failure to pay court debt. This creates, for low-income families, an insurmountable cycle of additional fees, mounting debt, and poverty.