State-Specific

Massachusetts Trial Court Fines and Fees Working Group Report

The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division published a “Dear Colleague” letter on March 14, 2016 outlining seven recommendations concerning court enforcement of fines and fees. The mission of the Working Group is to review the recommendations, and to evaluate 1) whether Massachusetts laws support each recommendation; and 2) whether the Trial Court is in compliance with each recommendation. This report further sets forth the Working Group’s proposals for adoption and implementation of the Department of Justice recommendations.

Aging, Women and Poverty in California: We Must Do More

In 2016, the CA Commission on Aging joined with the California Women’s Law Center and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls to host the first statewide convening focused on older women in poverty through the lenses of retirement options, elder justice, food insecurity, and health access. This article provides evidence that the relationship between legal services and Adult Protective Services (APS) and the Long Term Care Ombudsman should be strengthened in order to expand and improve elder justice resources.

Stopped, Fined, Arrested: Racial Bias in Policing & Traffic Courts in California

This report describes the role that racial bias plays in the practices of police and traffic courts in California. Using records collected from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, U.S. Census, and a host of police departments, the authors offer evidence that a disproportionate number of license suspensions and arrests related to unpaid fines and fees exacerbate poverty among low-income populations. The discussion also includes true accounts of such experiences as well as recommendations for alleviating issues related to the criminal justice system’s handling of traffic infractions.

Legislating Forgiveness: A Study of Post-Conviction Certificates as Policy to Address the Employment Consequences of a Conviction

A criminal record poses a variety of challenges to becoming a productive, law-abiding member of society. Certificates restoring eligibility for employment and certain licenses possess the potential to help individuals with a criminal record overcome such obstacles to achieve successful reentry. This study indicates that while the value of these documents often goes unrecognized by courts and employers, evidence suggests that legal aid providers can act as powerful advocates for expanding access to and successful implementation of certificates, ultimately facilitating stable employment.

The Community Listening Project

The Community Listening Project, sponsored by the DC Consortium of Legal Service Providers, assesses the various challenges experienced by D.C.’s poorest residents in an effort to determine how to better serve members of the community in most need of assistance. Through these efforts, participants identified housing, transportation, neighborhood concerns, employment, and debt as the greatest challenges to overcoming poverty. In addition to gaining a more informed understanding of the issues affecting low-income individuals, this research highlights the power that the law has to drive social change in the pursuit of meaningful justice for all.

Roles Beyond Lawyers: Summary and Recommendations of an Evaluation of the New York City Court Navigators Program

This report found that tenants facing eviction in New York City were able to get significantly better results under an innovative program that uses “court navigators,” who are not lawyers. The New York City Court Navigators Program seeks to address a considerable imbalance in legal representation, since, at the time of the study, approximately 90 percent of tenants did not have a lawyer, while the vast majority of landlords did.