Thursday, August 6, 2015

Court Fees Trap Ex-Inmates In A Prison Of Debt

In Washington, a state whose progressive reputation masks a tough-on-crime undercurrent, defendants and prisoners are charged “user fees” that fund the state and local systems designed to put them away. Those who do not or cannot pay are at risk of arrest and reimprisonment. It’s a national trend: In nearly every state, offenders pay for court costs, representation by a public defender, jail and probation, and fees are on the rise. The county clerk’s offices that depend most on these sums routinely refer to defendants as “customers”. Since 2003, Spokane County, home to about half a million people, has more than doubled what it collects in these legal financial obligations, or LFOs, from criminal defendants.


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