Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice OCCASIONAL SERIES ON REENTRY RESEARCH SENTENCING FOR DOLLARS: THE FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF A CRIMINAL CONVICTION February 9, 2007 FOCUS OF PAPER Financial consequences that are in the nature of penalties: • • • • Fines Fees Surcharges Costs • • • • Forfeitures Assessments Reimbursements Restitution FINANCIAL PENALTIES DRIVEN BY A COMBINATION OF PURPOSES: • • • • • Punishment Reparation Cost-Recovery Cost-Shifting REVENUE COMPETING INTERESTS Defray some of the costs of maintaining the criminal justice system Financial burdens threaten the successful reintegration of people returning to the community WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH BALANCING THE COMPETING INTERESTS? There is no balancing going on. • Each new fee is viewed as a solitary cost. • The cumulative impact of piling on each new financial penalty is ignored. • The road blocks to reintegration that are created are not recognized. LACK OF ATTENTION TO FINANCIAL PENALTIES, AND THE DIFFICULTY IN A CUMULATIVE ANALYSIS OBSCURE IMPORTANT POLICY QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO BALANCE THE INTERESTS IN: • • • • Revenue generation Individual accountability Community reintegration Public safety OUR ARGUMENT • The use of financial penalties has proliferated • Their use as a revenue source makes it difficult to restrain, and • Each new fee is created in a vacuum and the cumulative effect is not seen • These two factors have prevented a reasoned balancing of interests • The people upon whom we place these financial penalties can ill-afford to pay • Financial penalties impede reintegration, are counterproductive and undermine public safety IN THIS PAPER WE WILL • Illustrate the impact of financial penalty • By placing an inventory of such practices in the context of who is being asked to shoulder the financial burdens • In light of the policy issues at stake • Using practices in the State of New York PAROLEE FACTS The parolee population is largely minority, poorly educated, underemployed, and concentrated in urban New York March 2004 Ethnicity 52% - Black 29% - Hispanic 18% - White 1% - Other Sex 93% - Male 7% - Female Age Service Needs 81% - Drug Abuse 54% - Alcohol Abuse 46% - Unemployment 15% - Grade School Education Only Residence 61% - Five Boroughs 7% - Long Island/Mt. Vernon 32% - Upstate Median 35 Conviction Crime* A-I Violent** and VFO Offenses 32% Drugs 46% Other Violent 5% Property 10% Other 6% *All conviction crimes reflect top charge. **A-I violent offenses include Murder, Attempted Murder 1st, Arson 1st and Kidnapping 1st. VFO’s include other legislatively-designed violent felony offense. NYS Division of Parole ABILITY TO PAY – NATIONAL PROFILE • 80% of all felony-charged defendants are indigent • 60% unemployment one year post-release • 16% suffer mental illness (50% mental health problems) • 11% self-report a learning disability • Stigma of a criminal history and race discrimination diminish employment opportunities and future earnings • Facing legislatively created and increasing statutory barriers to employment CAN FAMILIES HELP SHOULDER THE FINANCIAL PENALTIES? • Comparative net worth – 2002 – Hispanic Household $7,932.00 – African American Household $5,988.00 – White Household $88,651.00 • Negative or zero net worth – 2002 – 32% of African American Households – 26% of Hispanic Households – 13% of White Households Pew Hispanic Center THREE GENERAL CATEGORIES OF FINANCIAL PENALTIES • Fines • Surcharges, fees, costs and civil penalties • Restitution THE GROWING USE OF FINANCIAL PENALTIES New York State exemplifies this trend to create and increase fees to generate revenue • Mandatory surcharge • Crime victim assistance fee • Designated surcharge • Additional designated surcharge • Incarceration fee • DNA databank fee • Parole supervision fee • Probation supervision fee • Sex offender registration fee • Supplemental sex offender registration fee • Driver responsibility assessment • Disciplinary surcharge This expansion has taken place without any review of the cumulative effects the fines, fees, surcharges and penalties may have on a person who is convicted, and his or her family. DOING THE MATH: The cumulative burden of financial penalties WHY LOOK AT THE CUMULATIVE IMPACT? • Problems emerge when new penalties are enacted and old penalties are increased in a vacuum. • Viewed in isolation, financial penalties appear to be: – A good source of revenue – A modest proposal – A good way to shift costs John, age 20, after refusing a chemical test, was convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, a class E felony, and No Insurance, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 5 years probation. Restitution was ordered for damage to a telephone pole. The financial consequences of his conviction will include: Mandatory Fine of no less than $1,000 for Felony DWI Conviction $1,000.00 Mandatory Felony Surcharge $250.00 Crime Victim Assistance Fee $20.00 Probation Supervision Fee ($30.00/month) $1,800.00 Fee for Termination of License Revocation $100.00 Surcharge for Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) Conviction $25.00 Civil Penalty for No Insurance $750.00 Civil Penalty for Chemical Test Refusal with Prior VTL §1192 Conviction Within 5 Years $750.00 Court Ordered Installation of Ignition Interlock Device $2,175.00 Driver Responsibility Assessment $750.00 Restitution $1,000.00 Surcharge for Collecting Restitution (5%) $50.00 TOTAL *This case example is derived from applicable law in New York State $8,670.00 The Collection Business – Enforcement of Financial Penalties PAYING IN PRISON • N.Y. State law provides for the collection of these financial penalties from the “inmate’s funds.” • “Inmate’s funds” – Money brought to prison – Money sent by family and friends to prison – Money earned while in prison N.Y. DOCS ENCUMBRANCE SYSTEM Directive No. 2788 • 20% from money earned while in prison • 50% from money sent from outside prison • If two encumbrances active: – 40% from money earned in prison – 100% from money sent from outside prison NO SMALL SUM The amount collected annually by DOCS from “inmates’ funds” for fines, fees and surcharges: $2.5 million DISCIPLINARY SURCHARGES Imposed by DOCS as a “mandatory disciplinary surcharge” • Developed as a revenue generating idea • $5.00 assessed automatically for Tier II and Tier III infractions • Total collected between 1995-2003: $3.5 million PAYING ON PAROLE • Executive Law §259-a(9)(a) provides for a $30.00/month supervision fee PAYING ON PROBATION Executive Law §257-c: “…every county and the city of New York, may adopt a local law requiring individuals currently serving or who shall be sentenced to a period of probation upon conviction of any crime under Article 31 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to pay to the local probation department…an administrative fee of thirty dollars per month.” EXAMPLES OF COUNTY IMPOSED FEES • • • • • Related to Probation Drug Testing ($8.00/test) Probation Pre-sentence Investigation Report ($300.00) Electronic Monitoring ($8.00/day) Supervision of Probationer (Non-DWI) ($30.00/month) Victim Impact Panel ($30.00/session) OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL Opinion No. 2003-4 April 7, 2003 “We conclude that the state has evinced an intent to preempt the area of probation services and thus that a county may not enact a local law imposing fees on individuals requiring these services except as specifically authorized by state statute.” SPONSOR’S MEMO TO S2842-A JUSTIFICATION: This legislation is necessary because of a recent opinion of the New York State Attorney General (2003-4), which stated that counties may not, pursuant to their home rule authority alone, enact local laws imposing administrative probation fees. Approximately fifteen counties already have local laws in place imposing many of these fees. This legislation is necessary to codify local authority to impose such local laws. PUBLIC SAFETY IS A PUBLIC GOAL Parole and probation play a significant role in reentry and public safety. They should be properly funded from the general fund. They should not be relegated to chasing “fees” for revenue to support the valuable work that they do. ENDURING LIABILITIES: Consequences of Non-payment Civil collection remedies may be used to collect fines, fees, surcharges or restitution orders as they become civil judgments. LONG-LASTING EFFECTS OF CIVIL JUDGMENTS • Show up on credit reports • Increasing likelihood they will affect prospects for employment • Increased use of credit histories by employers – almost doubled between 19962003 • Undermine ability to get a credit card, loans (including education loans) housing or mortgage THE EXPLOSION OF FINANCIAL PENALTIES: NEW YORK AND BEYOND State of Washington • Conditioning re-enfranchisement on payment of all financial obligations • Madison v. State of Washington – statute struck down – denial of equal protection • 10 states condition the right to vote on the full payment of fines, fees, restitution and other costs State of Georgia • Clinch County Sherriff collecting for room and board in jail without any statutory authority to do so • Williams v. Clinch County – consent decree – Repay $24,000.00 UP-FRONT FEES FOR INDIGENT DEFENSE • Imposed in 27 jurisdictions – 24 states – 3 counties MORE STATES AT WORK State of Texas • Arrest fee • Warrant fee • Failure to appear Time Payment fee Restitution installment fee Judicial fund court costs State of Colorado • Booking fee • Home release fee State of Massachusetts • “Safety fee” – 1/13/07 announced by Governor Deval Patrick THE NEED TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT “Imprisonment, corporal punishment, and even capital punishment cost a state money; fines are a source of revenue. As we have recognized in the context of other constitutional provisions, it makes sense to scrutinize governmental action more closely when the state stands to benefit. Justice Antonin Scalia Harmelin v. Michigan COERCIVE AND COUNTER - PRODUCTIVE COLLECTION PRACTICES • Threaten denial of a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities • Threaten denial of early release from parole or probation • Threaten reporting to credit agencies • Denial of the right to vote • Employment opportunities diminished by filing civil judgment • Threaten denial of a travel pass The obsession with financial penalties as a revenue bonanza has not only proven counterproductive but has made some units of government revenue hungry, pushing the outer limits of lawful conduct. POLICY CONCERNS • • • • Public safety Danger of net-widening Government dependence on such “fee” revenue Reentering penniless, with few prospects for employment, and no way to pay • Restraint is difficult to exercise when it comes to revenues and a marginalized target • Imposing financial penalties that serve to maintain a permanently disadvantaged population RECOMMENDATIONS • Jurisdictions should develop a comprehensive inventory of what financial penalties exist and how they accumulate • Provisions that exempt indigent people from certain financial penalties should be reviewed and clarified • Prohibit the enactment of local laws that impose additional financial obligations on individuals as a result of a criminal conviction NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDATIONS A. Consolidate all financial penalties into one fee B. Amend C.P.L. §420.35(2) to allow for waiver of certain financial penalties C. Impose a moratorium on all new financial penalties and the increase of existing penalties, and consider the filing of a reentry impact statement for any new legislation imposing financial penalties FLORIDA Final report of the Governor’s Ex-Offender Task Force November 2006 Recommendations: 7. That FDC (Florida Department of Corrections) increase family contact and reduce financial strain on inmates’ families through: – Development and implementation of forms and procedures that allow for modification of child support at reception or shortly thereafter to reflect the inability to pay while incarcerated and to avoid the accumulation of unpayable arrears. CONCLUSION The legislature has embraced, the policy goal of reintegration: ■ In 2006 Penal Law §1.05(6) was amended to add a new goal to sentencing in New York: “the promotion of their successful and productive reentry and reintegration back into society.” ASPIRATIONAL GOALS REQUIRE CHANGES IN EVERYDAY PRACTICE: • It is time to confront our attraction to financial penalties head on • We need to de-emphasize “revenue enhancement” as a criminal justice policy goal • Focus on stimulating, encouraging, and improving the chances for people returning home to live lawabiding, fulfilling and productive lives • Public safety is a community goal and public good • As such, the cost should be borne by the public EFFECTIVE REENTRY POLICIES ARE COST-EFFECTIVE • Decreasing financial penalties will improve reentry results • Successful reintegration results in significant long-term cost-savings • The public will derive long-term benefits from its financial investment in reentry • The limited and short-sighted revenue producing effects of financial penalties pale in comparison to the longterm cost savings and promotion of public safety that can be realized by smart reentry policies.