Director of Communications
National Center for State Courts
Williamsburg, Va. (February 3, 2017) — The National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices, formed in early 2016 by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), today released a series of resources intended to assist state courts promote the fair and efficient enforcement of the law and to ensure that no citizen is denied access to the justice system based on race, culture, or lack of economic resources.
The resources include a new bench card intended to assist judges in real time with the lawful collection of legal financial obligations; model legislation that, where enacted, would ensure that a state’s top judicial officers are apprised, on a regular basis, of every court with the authority to levy fines, assess fees, or impose incarceration; and an interactive website highlighting studies, reports and reforms across the states. These and additional resources are now available online at ncsc.org/finesfees.
“No one in America should be sent to jail—or threatened with jail—solely because they are poor. In too many instances, judges are ignoring fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while local politicians treat the court system as an ATM for their spending priorities. This must change, and this task force is committed to taking steps to ensure justice for all,” said co-chair Maureen O’Connor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. The task force is co-chaired by Laurie K. Dudgeon, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Kentucky Courts.
The release of the resources follows a year’s work by the National Task Force, which is comprised of state Chief Justices, state court administrators, academics and various other stakeholders.
At its February 1 general business meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, CCJ adopted a resolution in support of the adoption of the bench card. The resolution “encourages inclusion of the Bench Card into the judicial education curricula created by each State for new judges and for experienced judges…”
National Center for State Courts, 300 Newport Avenue, Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147