August 19, 2021 — Issue Brief

Criminal justice debt stemming from fines and fees is disproportionately borne by low-wage workers without job security and people of color. These populations will experience the financial stress caused by the pandemic most acutely. Many will lose jobs and be unable to pay criminal justice debts through no fault of their own.

Unless states act, nonpayment will result in enforcement actions that bring more of those vulnerable people into contact with the criminal system–including through suspension of driver’s licenses, arrest, incarceration, and probation and parole revocations or extensions. This would put residents, officers and prison populations at needless risk of infection, increase viral spread, and further strain the medical system.