The Constitution prohibits jailing defendants for non-payment of debts they cannot afford but too often courts fail to conduct adequate "ability to pay" proceedings and unrepresented individuals are sent to jail simply because they are too poor to pay a fee. This webinar discusses both effective representation of individuals in ability to pay proceedings and best practices for ability to pay determinations that advocates should promote in policy reform.
For criminal justice debtors, bankruptcy can be a powerful tool. It can eliminate the obligation to repay certain criminal justice debts or provide an orderly mechanism for repaying certain debts that cannot be discharged.
Too often, individuals who owe criminal justice debt lack counsel who can help them navigate the system and avoid the severe penalties often imposed for nonpayment-from garnishment to suspension of a driver's license to incarceration.