Fines & Fees
As the criminal legal system has expanded, it has become increasingly difficult to finance. Our nation’s traffic and misdemeanor courts – and prisons and jails – have become vessels for revenue generation.
These fees and fines are most often imposed on those who can least afford them. The litany of court fees and surcharges on the sentencing sheet for a typical probationer in Georgia includes fees for the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund, the Superior Court Clerks’ Retirement Fund; the Sheriffs’ Retirement Fund; the County Jail Fund; the Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Fund, the Crime Victims Emergency Fund, the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund, and the Driver Education and Training Fund. These fees are in addition to restitution or punitive fines.
When excessive fines and fees are imposed as part of a prison sentence, they make it harder for the person to reintegrate into society when they return home. Someone completing a sentence of imprisonment may leave prison with thousands of dollars in restitution, outstanding child support orders, unpaid fines, and additional fees. In this system, it is not long before a person’s monetary obligation is wildly out of proportion to the severity of the alleged offense.