New York imposes millions of dollars per year in fees, surcharges, and mandatory minimum fines on criminal defendants, punishing poverty and misguidedly attempting to fund government services on the backs of Black and Brown New Yorkers who can least afford to pay. The persistence of these fees and fines encourages policing for profit and keeps people trapped in poverty.
The End Predatory Court Fees Act would help end these practices by eliminating fees and mandatory court surcharges tied to criminal convictions, traffic violations, parole, and probation, and doing away with mandatory minimum fines that function as a regressive tax on the poorest New Yorkers. The bill would also end the unjust practice of jailing people simply because they cannot afford to pay a fee or fine.
At a time when millions of New Yorkers are struggling to recover from the uneven economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not fund our state’s recovery on the backs of poor New Yorkers. The NYCLU calls on lawmakers to promptly pass the End Predatory Court Fees Act.