With support from SJI, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) have formed a National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices to address the ongoing impact that court fines and fees and bail practices have on communities. One of the aims of the nationally–led initiative is to understand and address how fines, fees, and bail disproportionately impact the economically disadvantaged across the United States.
The Task Force is comprised of national judicial and legal leaders, legal advocates, policy makers from state, county and municipal government, academics, and the public interest community. Several CCJ and COSCA members attended a two-day White House hearing in December led by DOJ that outlined the severity of this issue and the critical need to find solutions.
The Task Force co-chairs have formed three working groups:
- Access to Justice and Fairness
- Transparency, Governance & Structural Reform
- Accountability, Judicial Performance and Qualifications, and Oversight
Among other responsibilities, the Task Force will:
- Draft model statutes, court rules, written policies, processes and procedures for setting, collecting and waiving court-imposed payments;
- Compile and create suggested best practices for setting, processing and codifying the collection of fines and fees and bail/bonds;
- Review and revise suggested guidelines for qualifications and oversight of judges in courts created by local governments or traffic courts, including reviewing and updating state codes of judicial conduct and the jurisdiction of judicial conduct commissions to ensure their applicability to all judges;
- Sponsor a court “hackathon” designed to develop innovative technological solutions that ensure courts are providing 21st century customer service through mobile applications and software platforms; and
- Develop an online clearinghouse of information containing resources and best practices.
The project draws on how court functions ensure that the judiciary can fulfill its obligation of upholding the Constitution and protecting the individual rights of all citizens.