Criminal Justice Legislation

HB 197 – Alternatives for Inability to Pay (2011-2012)

Link to Bill:

Read our testimony on HB 197 before the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 11, 2012

In For a Penny: The Rise of America’s New Debtors’ Prisons

This bill authorizes community service as an alternative for individuals who do not have the ability to pay fines and costs on or after the time of sentencing, and it permits payment plans for individuals who will not be able to pay costs in full when they are due. Vehicle registration and vehicle registration transfers may be blocked in cases of failure to comply with agreements or non-response after warning.

Primary Sponsors:
Secondary Sponsors:
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Judiciary (S), Judiciary and Ethics (H)
LSC Legislation Status:
Jurisdiction/Legislation Level:
Our take on this bill:

Incarceration for the inability to pay fines is fundamentally unfair, as it criminalizes poverty and jeopardizes the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection. HB 197’s provisions for installments and community service in lieu of payment are a marked improvement over what is in place, although its remedies remain imperfect. This bill’s vehicle registration penalty, like its previous driver’s license penalty, is counterproductive in that it limits the mobility necessary to hold many jobs that can pay off the fines and costs imposed by the court.

Bill Status:

Bill substituted on 02/02/2012

Bill amended on 11/27/2012

Bill passed out of House on 11/27/2012

ACLU Testimony on 12/11/2012

Bill amended on 12/12/2012

Bill passed out of Senate on 12/12/2012

Bill signed by Governor on 12/20/2012