This weekend the The North Carolina Fines and Fees Coalition and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program are holding an event in Greensboro examining the impact of court fines, fees and criminal justice debt in North Carolina.
The event begins Friday at 11 a.m. and will be held at the main banquet hall at Bennett College Global Learning Center, 521 Gorrell St., Greensboro. The program, which runs through Saturday, will feature a variety of criminal justice experts from across the political spectrum:
- The Honorable Josephine Davis, Superior Court North Carolina 14th Judicial District
- Satana Deberry, District Attorney for Durham County
- Dennis Gaddy, Founder and Executive Director, Community Success Initiative
- Brandon Garrett, Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
- Kristie Puckett-WIlliams, Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice Manager, ACLU of North Carolina
- Vikrant Reddy, Senior Fellow, Charles Koch Institute
- Priya Sarathy Jones, National Campaign Director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center
- Joanna Smith-Ramani, Managing Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
- Daryl Atkinson, Co-Director, Forward Justice
“In North Carolina, criminal justice systems have imposed burdensome fines, fees, court costs, and other debts onto residents, creating a ‘two-tier justice system,'” the coalition said in a release Monday. “In an attempt to close budget gaps, some states and local municipalities have increased court fines and fees, imposed late fees and installment plan fees, and intensified efforts to collect. These efforts hit low-income households and households of color disproportionately hard, and when penalties like suspending driver’s licenses are implemented, it exacerbates a person’s inability to pay.”
Policy Watch has written about this issue extensively, including coverage of policy changes under Deberry as district attorney in Durham.
Among the changes Deberry made shortly after taking office: waiving unpaid traffic fines and fees for 2,118 people who lost their licenses at least two years ago, removing a major impediment to restoring their ability to legally drive.