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Following the Money: How New York Tries, and Ultimately Fails, to Extract Revenue from Indigent Criminal Defendants

For several decades, courts across New York State have extracted revenue from the often poor, disproportionately Black and Brown residents who are targeted by our criminal legal system through a predatory system of mandatory court surcharges – interchangeably referred to as fees.

While mandatory court fees impose an obvious financial burden on the low-income individuals forced to pay them, far less is known about how the money from these surcharges is collected and distributed. This paper attempts to capture what we know about the imposition and collection of mandatory court fees in New York State, drawing on publicly posted data and government information requests. 

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