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  • Cohort 2022

    Alabama Appleseed

    Jefferson County Equitable Fines and Fees Project   

    Jefferson County, AL   

    Legal financial obligations (LFOs), commonly called fines and fees, often burden people involved in the legal system. The discretionary decisions of judges, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors are the leading cause of these obligations. In Alabama, a 2018 Alabama Appleseed survey found that many system-involved people desperate to pay these debts went without necessities, used predatory loans, committed additional crimes, or were jailed at some point because of their unpaid LFOs. This harmful practice demonstrates and perpetuates the socioeconomic and racial disparities in the criminal legal system, including in Alabama, where the population is 27 percent Black but the jail and prison populations are approximately 55 percent Black. And in Alabama, LFOs are overly imposed on the people who can least afford to pay them, making them a form of racialized wealth extraction that exacerbates Alabama’s racial wealth gap.    

    With Catalyst Grant funding, Alabama Appleseed, in partnership with the University of Alabama, aims to mitigate and highlight the harms caused by LFOs. It plans to provide analysis, guidance, and tools to support system actors in designing and implementing effective, sustainable change to eliminate racial disparities in the imposition of LFOs while making the collection process less onerous for those who can least afford to pay. It has two aims in conducting fiscal analysis of the data: (1) identify factors that influence whether and how long it takes people to pay off their LFOs, and (2) evaluate how the LFO amount a person owes compares with the resources required to collect that LFO. To answer these questions, Alabama Appleseed will use data on countywide cases involving LFOs in Jefferson County, census data, and interviews with relevant system actors.    


    2022 Grantees

    ACT 4 SA
    Bexar County, TX

    Alabama Appleseed
    Jefferson County, AL

    Baltimore Witness
    Baltimore, MD

    Casa San José
    Allegheny County, PA

    CHOOSE 180
    King County, WA

    Equiticity Racial Equity Movement
    Chicago, IL

    Felony Murder Elimination Project
    Los Angeles, CA

    For The People
    Los Angeles and Yolo Counties, CA

    Gemeinschaft Home
    Harrisonburg, VA

    Health and Justice Recovery Alliance
    Spokane, WA

    Invisible Institute
    Champaign County, IL

    James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy
    Cook County, IL

    Milwaukee, WI

    Kheprw Institute
    Indianapolis, IN

    Kilometro Cero
    San Juan, Puerto Rico

    Lone Star Justice Alliance
    Dallas, TX

    Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development
    Dane County, WI

    New York City Anti-Violence Project
    New York, NY

    One Love Global
    Lansing, MI

    Open Austin
    Travis County, TX

    New Orleans, LA