In North Carolina and across the nation, criminal justice systems have imposed burdensome fines, fees, court costs, and other debts onto residents, creating a “two-tier justice system” with disastrous human, economic, and public safety consequences. State and local governments have increased court fines and fees, introduced new ones, and intensified collection efforts. Aggressive collection measures available to state and local governments include suspending drivers’ licenses and excluding debtors from public employment. Furthermore, these debts fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, often resulting in an inability to pay for other basic needs and necessities.
Tackling a challenge as systemic and burdensome as court fines and fees requires a fully informed, on-the-ground understanding of how it impacts real people in real American communities. The North Carolina Coalition on Fines and Fees and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program will convene a group of local and national leaders, as well as community members, for a two-day convening aimed at solidifying this understanding and identifying actionable, evidence-based solutions that address the harmful impacts of court fines and fees.