Fine & Fee Initiative

Local governments across the country rely heavily on criminal fines and fees to fund their criminal justice system operations.  Since 2010, 48 states have increased civil and/or criminal fees assessed on defendants.  As a result, there have been more individuals who fail to pay a fine or fee can go to jail and accumulate debt that can never be repaid.  There is a growing movement among policymakers to reduce or eliminate this revenue source.  For some, the cost to maintain the system of fines and fees (e.g. staff to manage collections, law enforcement effecting arrests and jailing people for unpaid debt, and judges and prosecutors handling these cases on their dockets) exceeds the benefit of the revenue. For others, litigation or justice-related concerns are propelling a desire for change. 

As elected officials turn away from fines and fees from the criminal justice system as a revenue source, budget and finance directors will need to take the lead to maintain revenue levels and/or identify cost savings.  To reduce reliance on fines and fees, local governments need support in developing plans that allow reforms to go forward without a negative fiscal impact.  This free technical assistance will allow up to five county-level jurisdictions to tackle this challenge in a way they likely cannot do otherwise.





CJSF will provide free technical assistance to five county-level
governments with a population of 100,000 or more residents to
assess the financial impact of each jurisdiction’s current use of
fines and fees, and work with each to develop a plan that will
phase out their use.

CJSF will identify alternative revenue sources 
and opportunities to reduce expenses that are specific to each
jurisdiction, and will recommend policy and statutory changes
that may be needed to proceed.

CJSF will engage judges, law enforcement and other 
criminal justice officials early in the process to ensure their
support in making policy changes.

Selected sites will not be required to provide a cash match.


CJSF will accept and review completed applications on a rolling basis through February 22, 2019. Please submit your completed application to Sarah Schirmer at




CJSF will host a series of webinars throughout the application period to provide more information and answer questions. To register for a webinar, click the link below. If you have questions, contact Sarah Schirmer at


Webinars will be held at the following times:

January 15 1:00 – 2:00 EST // REGISTER

January 22 2:00 – 3:00 EST // REGISTER

January 29 4:00 – 5:00 EST // REGISTER

February 11 2:00 – 3:00 EST // REGISTER


CLICK HERE to download a preview of the webinar.