Make Criminal Court less unfair to low income people - Roll back Legal Financial Obligations

NOTE: We are aware that the Federal budget fight, Dreamers, and a pending government shutdown are top-of-mind. At the time of this writing, we don't know how our senators and representatives will vote, and what will be the state of things on Friday. Because of that, we're focusing on a local issue for today's action. We'll come back to the Federal budget, with thanks, accountability, or action next next week.

In the meantime, feel free to call your federal reps to speak your mind about this budget process as it unfolds.

Have you heard of LFOs?  They help keep racist mass incarceration locked in
place.

Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) are debts assigned by judges during
sentencing before people are imprisoned. With a 12% (!) interest rate that
starts WHILE a person is in jail, yearly collection fees, and
re-incarceration for non-payment, low income folks can spend the rest of
their lives tied to the criminal justice system.

Action: Ask your state Senator to support HB1783

Don’t forget to fill out our call log so that we can track our impact: https://goo.gl/forms/lbHUvI9h58f0dLqx1

Right now, the Washington State Senate is considering a bill that will
change tens of thousands of peoples' lives for the better *and* fight mass
incarceration.  The House has already passed it!  

HB 1783 will:

  •  End the practice of jailing people who are unable to pay LFOs
  • Prohibit forced collection of individuals’ public assistance funds
  •  See that those who cannot pay are not assigned LFOs (which is actually the current rule but it's not followed) by setting clear standards for determining a person’s ability to pay
  •  Eliminate the 12 percent interest rate on non-restitution LFOs and
  •  stop interest while people are incarcerated.

Find your one state Senator and two state House Representatives

(and save them to your phone if you haven’t already):
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Script:

“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ZIP] about Legal Financial Obligations. I would like Senator [NAME] to support HB 1783, to make the criminal justice system less unfair to low-income people. I don't think it's right that people have to pay 12% interest while they are in jail, and unable to make payments. Thank you.”

Background:

https://www.aclu-wa.org/questions-and-answers-about-legal-financial-obligations-lfos

Good News:

The City of Seattle to clear minor pot convictions, in a first small step towards repairing some of the damage done by the failed war on drugs

http://crosscut.com/2018/02/seattle-to-clear-minor-pot-convictions-are-felonies-next/?utm_source=crosscut-facebook&utm_medium=social