New OK Policy report shows how criminal fines and fees trap Oklahomans in justice system without increasing state revenues

Tens of thousands of Oklahomans enter the justice system each year, and many come out owing thousands of dollars in fines and fees. For poor Oklahomans, this debt can swallow up most of their family’s income and trap them in a… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Conclusion & Acknowledgements

Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, like many others across the country, places enormous financial burdens on the people it serves, forcing them to pay for many functions of government that may or may not bear any relation to their case. The thousands of dollars charged to mostly poor defendants can turn into a permanent punishment that creates high barriers to rebuilding a life after involvement in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, state agencies increasingly depend on the revenue generated by this arrangement as their appropriations from the Legislature have fallen. Legislators unwilling to raise taxes or to reverse tax cuts already enacted have instead created or increased court fees in order to generate new revenue. [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Part IV

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Part IV. Recommendations Oklahoma legislators should take steps to reduce the damage of excessive and unaffordable legal financial obligations, and strong reform ideas have aleady emerged in the Legislature. In 2016, the Justice… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Part III

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Part III. Fee revenue funds many government functions, but criminal fee revenue has leveled off The fees that the courts collect on criminal and civil cases range from relatively large sums that fund… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Part II

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Part II. Court debt punishes the poor, and most goes uncollected The costs for even a single incident in the criminal justice system are simply out of reach for many Oklahomans. About 80… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Part I

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Part I. Fees have grown for every type of crime As a result of their involvement in the criminal justice system, criminal defendants are charged a litany of fines and fees by the… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Introduction

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Introduction This report examines how criminal justice fines and fees trap Oklahomans in poverty while providing ever-smaller financial benefits to the state. Lawmakers must recognize that our approach to criminal justice debt is… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap – Appendices

Appendix I. Court Collection Totals Appendix II. District Court Collection Data… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Executive Summary

Tens of thousands of Oklahomans enter the justice system each year and come out with thousands of dollars in legal financial obligations. For poor Oklahomans, this debt can amount to most of their family’s income, and it often leads to a cycle of incarceration and poverty. Read more... [More...]

Steps forward and back in criminal justice legislation this year

The Oklahoma Legislature took some important steps on criminal justice reform in the 2016 session. This progress is the result of a collaborative effort by dozens of stakeholders to reduce penalties on low-level crimes and make alternative sentencing more accessible.… Read more [More...]