Progress on Fines and Fees at March 15 action
Updated: Mar 30
On March 15th 2023, over 150 New Jersey Together clergy and community leaders from Hudson, Essex, Morris counties gathered for an action at Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City.The purpose of the action was to celebrate progress on fines, fees, and outstanding warrants, and to push the issue further. The action celebrated the commitment of Hudson County officials to help currently and formerly incarcerated people to clear fines, fees, outstanding warrants, and more. At the meeting, leaders also advocated for statewide expansion of the campaign.
Fines, fees, and outstanding warrants pose significant economic and legal burdens for people who are re-entering communities after being incarcerated. Being able to address these barriers while incarcerated makes it much easier for people to rebuild their lives upon returning to the community. Addressing outstanding warrants also reduces the threat of reincarceration after being released. Fines, fees, and being required to appear in court also make it difficult for people to obtain and keep jobs after being incarcerated. By reducing court time and re-incarceration, people are able to return to their lives. For further background, please see this op-ed on the issue written by NJT/Metro IAF organizers.
All any correctional facility has to do is inform their inmates about the availability of a form that will enable them to make the request to get in front of a judge. This will significantly increase the chance to get discretionary fines reduced or eliminated. As Al-Tariq Witcher, community organizer with NJT and co-director of the Returning Citizens Support Group, said at the action, “the solution is relatively simple: help people get in front of a Judge to ask for their fines and fees to be resolved.”
The initiative to address this issue started when members of NJT met with the leaders of the Hudson County Correctional Facility (HCCF), the Hudson County Prosecutor and Public Defender’s Office, and the County Department of Housing and Community Reintegration, all of which are cooperating in this effort. Legislation will be needed to end all inappropriate fines and fees, but this collaborative approach creates a real opportunity for progress.
At the action, attendees heard stories from people directly impacted from inappropriate fines, fees, and outstanding warrants. New Jersey Together leaders re-confirmed and congratulated HCCF Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Edward Nestor, and Hudson County Commissioner William O’Dea for their commitments to collaborate on this campaign’s success.
“Although we have plenty to celebrate today thanks to the leadership from our community leaders and the Hudson county officials, however, the work is far from over. This is one victory, it cannot end here– this is just the beginning.” ~ Minister Galindo King from New Life Recovery and Reentry
Want to get involved with this work? Email NJT at email@example.com
Hudson County View:
Jersey City Times:
Jersey Journal op ed:
Rev. Alex Santora op ed: