Legislative hearing held on bill to eliminate court fees

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State lawmakers are discussing legislation to eliminate court, parole, and probation surcharges and fees. Supporters call those fees “predatory,” but others have reservations about changing the law. 

Democrat State Senator Julia Salazar is sponsoring the “End Predatory Court Fees Act,” which was the subject of a public hearing in Albany today. Salazar says these fees can create a barrier to re-enter society for those going through the court system. “Surcharges and fees, unlike fines are ostensibly not supposed to serve as punishment. Rather, court fees were created with the purpose of raising revenue and recuperating costs to fund public services which are primarily funded through other streams otherwise,” she said.

Advocates say people who must pay restitution fees can find themselves stuck in a cycle. “Their payments they knew they would never make. And they were unsure how to have that happen. And all I can say is I would listen to their comments and all they could think about was a life of crime in order to pay that back,” said Anitria Blue with New Hour for Women and Children.

But, others have reservations about changing the status quo. “I believe as a former prosecutor that fines and in particular restitution is extremely important in our criminal justice system,” said Republican State Senator Tom O’Mara.

The Senate bill also has a “same-as” Assembly version.

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