Lindsay Bass-Patel of the Wilson Ctr for Science and Justice on a Catch-22 in our justice system
As more and more states and localities have come to realize in recent years, there is a big practical conundrum that often arises when people of low income interact with the criminal justice system.
The problem is this: While the system regularly imposes big fines and fees on those accused of violating the law and, indeed, depends on those fines and fees to fund itself, a huge proportion of defendants simply don’t have the money to pay. The result: As a new report from the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke University Law School explains, approximately one in 12 North Carolina adults has an unpaid criminal court debt. Meanwhile, the system remains chronically underfunded.
The report is entitled “When dollars don’t add up to sense” and recently NC Newsline caught up with one of the authors, attorney and policy analyst Lindsay Bass-Patel.