Grants Funding National Initiatives

See also the State Fines, Fees and Bail Practices Interactive Map for all state-specific grants.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) is supporting the following national initiatives:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - In their LJAF-funded project, the ACLU will use litigation, advocacy and a public campaign to establish national standards 1) to ensure that debtors faced with jail time have access to a lawyer, at no cost if they cannot afford one, 2) for conducting ability-to-pay hearings; and 3) to establish a statutory definition for determining when an individual is indigent.

Brennan Center for Justice and Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) The grant will fund a fiscal impact study of court-imposed legal monetary sanctions. Policy makers will be able to use the analysis to pinpoint when the fiscal costs of debt collection and punishment practices by the court system become larger and costlier than the debts themselves. 

Criminal Justice Program (CJP) of Study at Harvard Law School - With support from LJAF, CJP will build on an existing toolkit by applying the framework and assessing the legal structure for the application of fines and fees in all 50-states.  They will develop a web-based tool to share the results and allow policymakers and advocates to determine which elements of their state’s legal architecture should be targeted for reform. 

Dream Corps/#cut50 – The organization is developing a public education campaign around fines and fees that includes publishing a series of op-eds, producing social media infographics, and a video highlighting the impacts of fines and fees and criminal justice debt.

Institute for Justice - Modeled on their extensive work on civil asset forfeiture, the Institute for Justice will conduct three phases of research to identify jurisdictions that are heavily reliant on low level violations and citations for revenue, and may be ripe for litigation.

Juvenile Justice - Through a LJAF-funded project, the Juvenile Law Center explored how the problem affects young people and their families. (See the Juvenile reports section)

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) - With Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) support, SPLC is developing and managing a network of leading litigators and researchers on fines and fees from across the country. This network will coordinate national strategy and reform efforts.

Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) - TPPF is publishing op-eds and reports on the impacts of fines and fees.

University of California, Los Angeles, Beth Colgan - Research on non-incarceration alternatives to fines including assessing decriminalization, diversion programs, use of day-fines and victim restitution funds. 

University of Washington, Dr. Alexes Harris - Multistate quantitative and qualitative research on the use and impacts of criminal justice fines and fees.