The National Center for Access to Justice released an updated and expanded Justice Index Findings and its first-ever Fines and Fees Index.
The National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School today released findings in Justice Index 2021, a newly updated and expanded website that ranks the U.S. states on selected best policies for access to justice.
On a 0-100 scale, the Justice Index ranks states in four civil justice policy areas: Attorney Access, Self Help, Language Access and Disability Access. Justice Index 2021 also includes – for the first time – a separate criminal justice ranking dedicated to curbing excessive reliance on fines and fees.
The National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School today announced the release of the Fines and Fees Index, a first-of-its-kind measurement of U.S. states’ performance against a comprehensive set of standards for ensuring fines and fees are applied in a way that is fair and equitable.
Measuring the performance of the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. against 17 policies NCAJ believes every state should have in place to rein in abuses, the Fines and Fees Index creates a pragmatic, nonpartisan roadmap for reform. It is rooted in several core principles: fines should be proportionate both to the severity of an offense and to a person’s financial capacity; no one should be punished for “failing” to pay a fine they genuinely cannot afford; and states should abolish harmful practices including the pervasive “user fees” that are wielded to extract revenue from poor litigants.
“Fines and fees are the ugly underbelly of the justice system, because state and local governments saddle the most marginalized people in our society with punishments they can’t afford,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, NCAJ legal and policy director.
Read news coverage about the Justice Index Findings and Fines and Fees Index: