The Hidden Costs of Florida’s Criminal Justice Fees

Increasingly, states are turning to so-called “user fees” and surcharges to underwrite criminal justice costs and close budget gaps. This Brennan Center for Justice report focuses on Florida, noting that since 1996, the state has added more than 20 new categories of financial obligations for criminal defendants and, at the same time, eliminated most exemptions for those who cannot pay. The report argues that the fee increases have not been accompanied by any evident consideration of their hidden costs: the cumulative impacts on those required to pay, the ways in which the debt can lead to new offenses, and the costs to counties, clerks and courts of collection mechanisms that fail to exempt those unable to pay.

The Hidden Costs of Criminal Justice Fees