Deep Center helps lead fees and fines reform in Chatham County

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 9:53 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The state of Georgia ranks second in the nation for reliance on fines and fees revenue, according to the Deep Center.

The Savannah-based non-profit is working to change that.

Chatham County is one of five areas selected to get involved in Cities and Counties for Fine and Fee Justice (CCFFJ).

The Deep Center, the District Attorney’s Office and the Chatham County Commission are working together to look at how fines and fees affect the local justice system.

The non-profit said people who have the least money to spare are often the ones hit with fines.

“When you have someone who is unhoused in a really unstable housing situation…they’re homeless. They are found somewhere where they probably shouldn’t be, but it’s the only place they had to be and they’re charged with criminal trespassing. On the day of their court hearing, they go in and they’re told to pay $450. If a person is unhoused and homeless, they won’t be able to pay that,” said Coco Papy, Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Deep Center.

The Deep Center said they’re still in the beginning stages of the project.

Some examples of fines they’re looking at are in recorder’s court, state court and traffic court.

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