Senior Policy Analyst
Program Director, State Policy Fellowship Program
State and local governments increasingly charge criminal defendants for services ranging from a public defender to room and board in a prison or jail, as a Brennan Center for Justice report explains. This growing dependence on fees, along with burdensome criminal fines, encourages poor policing practices — such as those a U.S. Justice Department investigation uncovered in Ferguson, Missouri — and disproportionately harms low-income residents and communities of color.
States and localities rely more on criminal justice user fees largely because they need to raise new revenue since they’ve made other fiscal policy decisions that have squeezed their budgets: