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Court Fees Drive Many Poor underground or face jail time for unpaid parking tickets.

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posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:17 AM
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This is my second post on the NPR special report Guilty and Charged

In this next section NPR reports on the hundreds of thousands of people across the country can't get jobs or access services because of the fees.
People who committed non-violent crimes of Driving violations, parking tickets, some got caught with drugs and drug paraphernalia. When they failed to pay the fines and fees they were charged by the courts, warrants were issued for their arrest. then they ran rather than go to jail.

In this first part of the story they take us a Fugitive Safe Surrender, in New Jersey where some 4,500 people lined up in hopes of getting their records cleared.

One woman on a charge for driving without a license, owes to almost $10,000. She had gone to jail three times because she couldn't pay off her fines!


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I've got warrants. So I've come here to lift them so I can start looking for a job. We're going to safely surrender instead of running from the cops. We have hope today. Just for today.


In the second half of the program they talk about how all these fee's and fines came into practice.

SHAPIRO: Then came the War on Drugs in the 1980s. In 40 years, the number of people behind bars in the U.S. jumped 700 percent. Jails, prisons, courtrooms, the whole criminal justice system became overcrowded. And the costs kept rising, too. From $6 billion for states in 1980 to more than 67 billion a year now.

At the same time, states struggled with budget deficits. Politicians faced new pressure not to raise taxes. So states started charging user fees to the defendants who came through the criminal justice system. But those fees create a harsher punishment for the poor. Because those costs pile up often to hundreds and even thousands of dollars.


How much money are we talking about?
Well in Philadelphia alone, courts sent bills to more than 320,000 people the average bill came out to $4,500 for a grand total of $1,450,000,000 in unpaid fines! Benton County in Washington state brought in $13 million in 2012. all collected from court fee's and fines.


SHAPIRO: In NPR's reporting, we came across those people again and again. We found a woman in her 60's who lost her subsidized housing for seniors and became homeless. It was discovered she still owed $500 on a conviction decades before for forging a prescription. We found people who didn't pay court costs and lost their driver's license, but they kept driving sometimes to get to work, to get kids to school until they got caught, went to jail and got assessed thousands of dollars of more fines and fees.

VANESSA TORRES HERNANDEZ: What we hear from people over and over and over again is that they feel constantly trapped. That if they cannot, somehow, out of magic, produce whatever funds the court has demanded that they will be incarcerated.


NPR looked at a year of data from the Benton County Jail. looked at inmates who'd gone to court on misdemeanor charges. On a typical day, about 25 percent of all those people landed in jail not for what they did, but rather because they couldn't pay the fine.

That's the rule... they don't care what you did... you pay or you go to jail... where they will just tack on more fines then set you up with an installment plan and if you miss a single payment... your sorry butt is right back in jail...

The first part of this series can be found here. The return of Debtors Prisons




posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:20 AM
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USA has got to keep those prisons full!



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:24 AM
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originally posted by: crazyewok
USA has got to keep those prisons full!



well yeah look at the revenue to be earned.


Well in Philadelphia alone, courts sent bills to more than 320,000 people the average bill came out to $4,500 for a grand total of $1,450,000,000 in unpaid fines! Benton County in Washington state brought in $13 million in 2012.


That's just crazy... making courts and prisons bigger than GM and Microsoft in growth and gross monies brought in per facial quarter



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:28 AM
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originally posted by: crazyewok
USA has got to keep those prisons full!



Your right!!!

Especially prisons owned and run by Corrections Corporation of America......


As state governments wrestle with massive budget shortfalls, a Wall Street giant is offering a solution: cash in exchange for state property. Prisons, to be exact.

Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters recently to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons as a remedy for "challenging corrections budgets." In exchange, the company is asking for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post.

The move reflects a significant shift in strategy for the private prison industry, which until now has expanded by building prisons of its own or managing state-controlled prisons. It also represents an unprecedented bid for more control of state prison systems.

Corrections Corporation has been a swiftly growing business, with revenues expanding more than fivefold since the mid-1990s. The company capitalized on the expansion of state prison systems in the '80s and '90s at the height of the so-called 'war on drugs,' contracting with state governments to build or manage new prisons to house an influx of drug offenders. During the past 10 years, it has found new opportunity in the business of locking up undocumented immigrants, as the federal government has contracted with private companies in an aggressive immigrant-detention campaign.


Source



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:34 AM
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Funny how you posted this because this is the EXACT thing I am dealing with! SMH.....

It started when I was 14, ran away and became a ward of the court. Now at 25 I have 4 parking tickets i haven't paid, 2 went to collections, and the other 2 are now a warrant. I have been pulled over this past few months about 4 times with that warrant and the officers never mention it. I even got my license suspended and the officers still let me drive away...must be god on my side.

Anyways, at the time I wasn't able to afford the tickets, so thats why they slipped away. Now that I am working a full time job I'm saving up for a lawyer to take care of it all rather then waste the money on the tickets paying the court system that has kept me from moving my legs (metaphorically) now for 10 years... I hate the system. It has ruined a lot of my life. It really started with getting harassed by 2 cops...and it has costed me 10 years of my life in the system.. Nice thread though! good to know I'm not the only one who can't stand the system.
edit on 22-5-2014 by Thisbseth because: (no reason given)

edit on 22-5-2014 by Thisbseth because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:35 AM
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Sounds like they made a choice to both violate a law and then not accept the consequences associated with that decision. Somehow I've made it through 43 years of life with only a few speeding tickets. Those I did get, I paid. Sometimes on a payment plan when I didn't have much cash, but they got paid.



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:46 AM
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a reply to: usernameconspiracy

I was harassed by 2 officers during my time in Apple Valley, CA. They pulled me over and ticketed me 4 times in a matter of 3 weeks...And I know you need proof but I was innocent. I was a victim of police officers trying to get their quota up and giving out BS tickets. At the time I was living couch to couch, so of course i made a payment plan.

What happened when I really hit rock bottom and couldn't even afford the 25$ a month fee? well lets just say they got me and put me on summary probation for 3 years. Then what happens 2 years and 360 days later? I was violated for not paying a ticket. So now they have me for another 3 years in the system....It is a JOKE and people like you don't understand. The court system has been swooping up people for years now only for the $$$$$$ and not everyone can be like you...
edit on 22-5-2014 by Thisbseth because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:50 AM
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a reply to: usernameconspiracy

I was no saint... A hotrod hooligan you could say.
Luckily my family had money otherwise things may have been very different for me.

Paying a fine for a mostly harmless misdeed come's with the territory...

but this has gone beyond punishing a ne'er do well and turned into a means to generate huge profits for states who are always looking to find new sources of revenue.

this no longer about slapping hands for speeders... this about funding the courts, paying the judges and staffs salaries. they stopped caring about justice when they became focused on Actuarial and valuations of the nations poor.



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:51 AM
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a reply to: HardCorps

AMEN



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 11:57 AM
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Maybe people should stop driving and parking like douches bags . If someone cant pay a simple parking ticket or what ever money is owed for an infraction don't do the infraction , probably can't even afford the luxury of a car .

I have noticed you have been making a few of these kinda of threads ..

All I really have to say is kinda makes me laugh a little bit and makes me think of the phrase don't wanna do the time ... Don't do the crime . What do people expect . But to sit there and whine and cry because they cannot afford the ticket and fees the solution is rather simple .



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:00 PM
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a reply to: freedomSlave

WOW....Did you not see the reply right above yours? Saying how people are being given tickets NOT because of the crime, but because it pays for everything regarding the courts....SMH..read through the posts next time before you try and bash people. Come to think of it, I guarantee I am a better driver then half the people on ATS, and even I have gotten BS tickets that have led to bigger issues with the court system. The ignorance of people blows my mind.
edit on 22-5-2014 by Thisbseth because: (no reason given)

edit on 22-5-2014 by Thisbseth because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:07 PM
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a reply to: freedomSlave

read the story...

it's not about paying a simple ticket.
it's about how that one ticket leading to additional court costs and if say that ticket blew off your windshield and you never saw it... you could go to jail and they would charge for those days spent in lockup- then you'll have to pay a bonds man, pay for a lawyer... pay another fine for ignoring the ticket you never saw...

Why it's quite possible for that $50 parking ticket to add up to a couple of thousand before all is said and done. Money if you don't pay will get your butt landed back in jail where more fines and fee's will be added to your bill. kind of in the same way Mickey D's asks if you'd like to supersize that order

Also in my other thread I posted a little known fact.

Supreme Court ruled that judges can't send someone to jail simply because they're too poor to pay their court debt, only if the person had the ability to pay but had willfully refused.” - See more at: www.abovetopsecret.com...


So these judges are ignoring the Supreme Courts ruling and locking up these folks --- if it wasn't for the money they brought in--- those judges would sitting in a jail cell !!!!



edit on 22-5-2014 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:12 PM
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All you have to do is call the City/county clerk office where the ticket was given and ask for deferred adjudication, you can get your ticket dismissed and make payment arrangements. They don't want you in jail they want to get paid. So stop being lazy and take care of your business. The people who have these tickets just refuse to pay them and let it go. Guess what the cops will find you sooner or later so JUST PAY THEM IF YOU CANT AFFORD IT MAKE PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS. Stop buying your case of beer three times a week and you can pay that ticket off.



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:15 PM
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Then again I choose to live in a place that doesn't try to bankrupt their citizens. TEXAS. We have the jobs, we don't treat you like a paycheck and we don't have liberal morons taxing the hell out of us. Move while you can.



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:20 PM
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a reply to: texasyeti

Actually Texas was one of the first states to charge for court services like

Electronic monitoring

Probation or supervision

Public defender or legal costs

Room and board

Increased civil and/or criminal fees

Not saying that's a bad thing--- I mean why should you and I have to pay to have those people locked up.

But once again I have to point out


the Supreme Court ruled that judges can't send someone to jail simply because they're too poor to pay their court debt, only if the person had the ability to pay but had willfully refused.” - See more at: www.abovetopsecret.com...



edit on 22-5-2014 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:23 PM
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a reply to: texasyeti

You're not wrong. There are a lot of options to for assistance.

Trouble is these outs arent taught anywhere and half the time when you call the town hall or clerk or even the PD to inquire about your options the jackoff on the phone doesnt know anything about them either.

Help is all over the place if you know where to look. Nobody knows where to look though.

I've taken a worst case scenario approach myself and gamed exactly what to do if I ended up out of work, homeless, sick, etc... and keep a book with info and numbers in it for the area.

Most people don't do this and think (no thanks to public education and popular perception) that any dealing with the police or town hall is hopeless.

Law is like the tax code now. You're lost without guidance and the longer you go without guidance the more likely you are to break the law. So much of the legal system needs to be gutted.
edit on 22-5-2014 by thisguyrighthere because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:30 PM
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originally posted by: texasyeti
Then again I choose to live in a place that doesn't try to bankrupt their citizens. TEXAS. We have the jobs, we don't treat you like a paycheck and we don't have liberal morons taxing the hell out of us. Move while you can.


Texas?

The state where shooting a craigslist escort in the back as she's walking out the door after a dispute over $150 is legal? The state where it's okay to shoot shoplifters as long as it's after dark? Where a 19 year-old kid is facing up to 99 years in prison for selling hash brownies? Where they're constantly trying to push creationism into the science classrooms? The state with the highest number of uninsured people? (24% wasn't it?)

Sounds a little like asking people to "move to Afghanistan" before it's too late.

EDIT:

Back squarely on topic. I've always thought that traffic fines are a trap for the poor.

Imagine a person can't afford repairs for his car and the car fails a state inspection? Now what? He drives illegally and gets pulled over and now, not only can't he afford to bring his vehicle into compliance, but there's a fine. If he can't pay the ticket, there's a court date. Going to court often means missing at least half a day of work. Not going to court or going to court and falling behind on any payment arrangement can lead to a bench warrant.

So now you've got a person who still can't afford to drive legally, driving around waiting to get popped again or worse, locked up for a bench warrant from the first offense. A bench warrant comes with a bail amount around here of something like $500. I had to bail out my niece's feckless boyfriend from a situation like this. I did get most of that back when he went to court, but imagine that there was nobody to bail a person out? Then that person is sitting in the county jail "working off his debt" to the tune of $20 a day. When he gets out, he's still got an illegal car and now he's got no job. It's a pretty damning catch-22 — If you can't afford to pay, then we'll charge you more!

It's similar to the credit system. If you don't have credit, it's hard to get credit. The people struggling the most are the most at risk of falling behind on payments since many of them are living paycheck to paycheck. Falling behind on payments causes the credit score to plummet resulting in higher interest rates when financing which means the payments are going to be THAT MUCH MORE. This puts a person at an EVEN GREATER risk of falling behind on payments or defaulting and thereby further decreasing "credit worthiness."
edit on 2014-5-22 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:32 PM
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a reply to: thisguyrighthere

your right and now that this has become a huge revenue stream.

the courts not only have no incentive to correct this while they can... they are encouraged to do more, to do whatever it takes to bring in more money!

talk about your ultimate scam!


edit on 22-5-2014 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 12:49 PM
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originally posted by: freedomSlave
Maybe people should stop driving and parking like douches bags . If someone cant pay a simple parking ticket or what ever money is owed for an infraction don't do the infraction , probably can't even afford the luxury of a car .

I have noticed you have been making a few of these kinda of threads ..

All I really have to say is kinda makes me laugh a little bit and makes me think of the phrase don't wanna do the time ... Don't do the crime . What do people expect . But to sit there and whine and cry because they cannot afford the ticket and fees the solution is rather simple .





Well this sounds all well and good, but let's be realistic here. How many laws regulations and statutes are on the books? Millions!!!!

You honestly think there is even one single person on this planet that knows all the laws of just one county? I will bet quite a lot of money there is not one's because the human mind can only hold and evaluate so much info at a time.nif we all went about our days trying not to break a single law, we would not be able to use our minds for anything else.

This is of course not mentioning the simple fact, the laws are different all over, just driving one county to another in some states sees a drastic swing in laws, so now one must not only know the laws of their state and country, but each individual county on the root of a trip through say Mississippi, where I am from Indiana.

In Indy I can go anywhere with beer in my possessing and not worry, in Mississippi there is a county, can't remember the name but the only town in it is the county seat of Monticello, where one of their primary sources of town and county revenue is prosecuting out is starters for the heinous crime of possession of beer. Or even more rediculous, dancing, yes I said dancing, it is also illegal in Monticello Mississippi.

I learned all this following hurricane Katrina when my unit was deployed to the gulf coast, 5 of us were dispatched as FEMA liasons for the county, so I spent a lot of time with the mayor police chief sherrif. I saw in the paper all the folks arrested for posessiin of beer, and that evening while I am drinking a beer with the police chief and the mayor on the front steps of town hall, I asked them about it.

They both laughed told me all about it, and handed me another beer.

This all occurred in front of god and everyone.

As they explained it to me, there is no actual law, there are only measures to keep the populous in check, none are always enforced, others are used as revenue generation tools to further fund the leadership. Some are weilded as weapons to punish people, either guilty or unable to prove they aren't.

Because as the police chief told me " in this town if I charge you, your getting convicted".
edit on 2014bThursdayv5520145 by oblvion because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2014 @ 01:17 PM
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I have a friend who spent a month in jail for driving on a suspended license because of unpaid fines. I have unknowingly drove on a suspended driver's license while on probation, had I been pulled over I could have faced a year in prison.

They do a poor job of informing the common citizen when their driver's license is suspended and the penalty for being caught is about the same as a DUI, the more offenses the longer they will imprison a person before. Unless of course you have a lot of money are able to buy your way our of trouble.

The 13th Amendment gave the state a monopoly on slavery. Only a fool will tell you it abolished slavery.



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