Legal Financial Obligations are the costs incurred by individuals convicted of crimes during the time they are incarcerated. Fees include court costs, fines and other legal assessments. They accrue at a rate of 12 percent and are issued at a critical time when individuals have served their time and are reentering society. LFOs trap families into cycles of poverty and debt, increase the risk of homelessness through ruined credit, and shift the costs of mass incarceration onto communities of color.
Some statistics about LFOs:
- The average LFO debt in Washington is $2,500. With a 12% interest rate, consistent payments of $20 per month will NEVER pay off the debt.
- Even when you compare people convicted of the same crime, which have the same criminal history, Latino defendants are sentenced to higher LFOs than anyone else.
- Incarceration targets poor people. 80-90% of people charged with felonies in Washington are declared indigent by courts at the time of sentencing.
- More than 114,000 people owe Legal Financial Obligations in the state of Washington.
Are you affected by Legal Financial Obligations or know someone who is? We want to hear from you.