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Washtenaw County exploring how to remove fines and fees from criminal justice system

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Washtenaw County is exploring ways to reduce or even eliminate justice system fines and fees. To do that, the county recently joined the national organization Cities and Counties for Fine and Fee Justice, or CCFFJ.

Statistics show that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects poor people and people of color. Fees associated with the criminal justice system can compound already difficult situations. Because of that, some major metropolitan areas have taken steps to remove those.

The challenge is, if you remove those revenues from the courts, where does the funding come from?

Through the CCFFJ, Washtenaw County spokesperson Crystal Campbellsays this is an opportunity to change how the justice system does business.

“If a city/county as large as San Francisco has been able to do it and not create deficits, not see gaps in their budgets, then Washtenaw County can do it also.” 

One of the requirements for the program is to perform a review of the county budget through a lens of racial equity. That report is expected to be presented in September.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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