photo of henderson county courthouse
Todd McDougal / Wikimedia Creative Commons

A brush with the criminal justice system for something as small as a busted tail light or speeding ticket has outlandishly large implications for people who cannot pay the fines, fees and surcharges associated with a court appearance. These costs add up for people, and they add up for the court system too. Last year North Carolina brought in more than $300 million dollars from assessing these charges.

man in handcuffs
houstondwiphotos / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Almost one in 20 people jailed in Mecklenburg County last year were held on failure to pay court fines or fees. Now, a new program supported by the MacArthur Foundation is modeling an evidence-based approach to criminal justice reform that changes the way people are assessed, held and released.