Court-Imposed Debts and the Poor: Reforming Policies for Legal Financial Obligations
The ACLU-WA is working to end unfair policies and practices for court-imposed debts. Known as Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs), these are fines, fees, and restitution imposed on top of a criminal conviction. Often imposed without taking into account an individual’s ability to pay, they can grow quickly due to 12% annual interest and collections fees.
LFOs keep the poor tied to the criminal justice system and present a formidable barrier for people seeking to re-enter society. In some instances, a person’s inability to pay off LFOs result in their being locked up – a modern-day form of the debtors’ prison.