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Task Force on Fines, Fees, & Bail Practices: New Resources Available

A little over one year from the date of its formation, the National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices, comprised of stakeholders representing the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), recently released multiple resources for state courts.

Supported in part by SJI and DOJ/Bureau of Justice Assistance, with technical assistance from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), these new aids can assist state courts in the fair and efficient enforcement of the law, and help ensure that no citizen is denied access to the justice system.

The resources include:

The new bench card is intended to assist judges in real time with the lawful collection of legal financial obligations.  At its February 2017 general business meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, CCJ adopted a resolution in support of the adoption of the Bench Card. The resolution “encourages inclusion of the Bench Card into the judicial education curricula created by each State for new judges and for experienced judges.”

“No one in America should be sent to jail—or threatened with jail—solely because they are poor. In too many instances, judges are ignoring fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while local politicians treat the court system as an ATM for their spending priorities. This must change, and this task force is committed to taking steps to ensure justice for all,” said co-chair Maureen O’Connor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. The task force is also co-chaired by Laurie K. Dudgeon, Director of the Administrative Office of the Kentucky Courts.

The National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices will continue to create various tools to assist states.  Page two of the Bench Card refers to a document, Best Practices for Determining the Right to Counsel in Legal Financial Obligation Cases, which is currently in development and is expected to be released later this Spring.