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What is the End Predatory Court Fees Act in New York?

In a bid to reform the justice system, New York lawmakers and advocates have introduced the End Predatory Court Fees Act, aimed at abolishing court fees and surcharges and altering the state’s approach to collecting owed funds.

The legislation specifically targets the extraction of funds from inmates’ accounts for expenses like restitution, highlighting the disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and families for minor offenses. Supporters label the current system a “regressive tax,” while critics argue that court fees are a justified consequence of legal violations.

The debate is heated, with individuals like Michelle White sharing personal stories of financial hardship due to garnished wages sent to incarcerated loved ones, underscoring the bill’s intent to alleviate such burdens.

Assemblymember Kenny Burgos, a co-sponsor of the bill, emphasizes the need to find alternative funding for the justice system within New York’s extensive budget, challenging the current practice deemed predatory towards those less financially stable. Opposition from figures like Republican Assemblymember John McGowan frames the bill as a move towards leniency on crime, stressing the importance of deterrence through financial penalties.