Court fees a hurdle to full redemption, advocate says

If a defendant can’t pay, he or she is usually assessed a mandatory $600 on top of whatever fines are assessed or restitution the court believes the defendant is capable of paying.

News Story (Washington)

Donald W. Meyers
Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)
January 31, 2019

Tags: Courts, Debtors Prison, Fines and Fees

Organizations mentioned/involved: Columbia Legal Services (Washington State)


While Yakima County Superior Court’s presiding judge says the county strives to stay within the law and not use the county jail as a modern-day debtor’s prison for those who can’t afford to pay, a legal advocate for the poor says that even the current fee structure puts an undue burden on low-income defendants who are trying to get a fresh start in life.

“Relying on fees, fines and costs for someone who cannot pay them is not a good long-term or short-term solution,” said Nick Allen, who works on Columbia Legal Services’ institutions project. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”