Assembly Panel Advances Bill To Help People Who Can’t Pay Court Penalties

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Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer

TRENTON– An Assembly panel advanced legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Grace L. Spencer to help residents who are unable to pay court imposed penalties and detained as a result to be given credit against the fines for the time served in jail.

“This legislation would give individuals an opportunity to meet their financial obligations to the court,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “Spending time in jail could possibly mean time lost at work or looking for work for some residents. This would only exacerbate their problems.”

The bill (A-581) would provide that a person who is imprisoned as a result of a default on a payment of a court imposed financial obligation, the court may order that credit be given against the amount owed for each day of confinement.

“Giving individuals the option to work off the debt owed would be a progressive and more productive approach to justice,” added Spencer. “In the long run it may be beneficial to the state as much as it is to the individual.”

Under the bill’s provisions, the court may impose a term of imprisonment or participation in a labor assistance program or enforced community service to achieve the objective of the court imposed financial obligation. The credit would be determined at the discretion of the court but not less than $50 foe each day of confinement served.

The measure was recently approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It now goes to the Assembly Speaker who will decide when to post for a floor vote.


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