Community Corrections Fines and Fees Elimination


In April 2020, Ramsey County Community Corrections eliminated fines and fees for criminal justice services such as supervision, electronic home monitoring, and adult patient healthcare.
Eliminating fines and fees is one element of reform efforts in Community Corrections that include closing Boys Totem Town and reducing the population in the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (RCCF) by providing community-based options and reducing probation violations and the spread of COVID-19. These efforts align with department and county goals and priorities: putting Residents FirstTransforming Systems Together and Aligning Justice System Outcomes with Community Values.
Between 2016 to 2020, Ramsey County residents paid nearly $5.7 million in fines and fees. Community Corrections began reducing its fines and fees in 2018.

Why eliminating fines and fees matters

Eliminating fines and fees is part of an organizational commitment to ease unnecessary financial burdens on people involved with the justice system and advance racial equity. Fines and fees disproportionately impact clients of color and those facing financial struggles - which can often contribute to increased and ongoing (and costly) contact with the criminal justice system in a 'no-win' cycle.  
The goal of Community Corrections is not punishment; rather, staff aim to use evidence-based practices to help people change, find opportunities for rehabilitation, create positive outcomes for all clients and their families and enhance community safety. As such, eliminating fines and fees also helps our probation officers and clients develop rapport and build relationships that produce better outcomes for clients and the community. Instead of being consumed by a confusing system of fees, clients can focus on their program and experience more productive relationships with probation officers. Meanwhile, probation officers can better focus on their core professional work - such as helping clients find jobs, succeed with treatment and rebuild their lives - instead of serving as impromptu debt collectors. 
Until 2018, clients on probation and at RCCF paid a variety of fees for services like supervision, chemical health assessments, electronic home monitoring and goods and services in the facilities. On average, a client on probation for five years paid $300 in supervision fees and $125 for a chemical health assessment. In addition, the average RCCF client with a 45-day length of stay paid a $20 admission fee and $43 in telephone use fees. The average client released to electronic home monitoring for 22 days paid $352 and the average client on work release paid $294.  
The chart on the left shows that the poverty rate for people of color in Ramsey County is higher than that of white residents. The chart on the right shows that most Community Corrections' clients are of color. (The department does not collect data on clients' income.)

How we got here

In 2019, Ramsey County was one of three jurisdictions selected nationwide to examine ways to reduce relying on criminal justice fees for revenue. This often creates a cycle of debt, new charges and other penalties, including driver’s license suspensions for those unable to pay. Community Corrections had already begun reducing supervision fees for certain types of adult cases. In March 2020, COVID-19 accelerated the department's timeline to phase out fees. 
Budget savings from closing the Boys Totem Town residential treatment program in 2019 helped offset elimination of fee revenues by Community Corrections in 2020 and beyond. The department also continues to develop strategies to further lower operating costs such as reducing the amount of office space it pays rent for, shifting more services to community-based providers and seeking other revenue sources. 

Explore the data

Data below is from 2016 to 2020. Use the filters to narrow data by year, client type and fee type.
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