The Fines & Fees Justice Center (FFJC), located at New York Law School (NYLS), has received a $5-million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This generous donation supports the organization’s efforts to eliminate fees in the justice system, ensure that fines are equitably imposed and enforced, and end harmful collection practices.
Courts in the United States impose heavy fines as well as an array of user fees—including court costs, incarceration fees, and public defender fees—on millions of people every year and then punish those who cannot pay by garnishing their wages, suspending their driver’s licenses, withholding their voting rights, and even confining them in jail. FFJC directs their efforts toward ending these harmful fines and fees policies that criminalize poverty, exacerbate racial disparities, and undermine economic prosperity. Support for reform is growing among state and local policymakers across the country, and Scott’s investment in FFJC’s work will have a powerful impact.
“We are grateful to MacKenzie Scott for her generous support, and to NYLS which has been a partner since our inception” says Joanna Weiss, Co-founder and Co-Director of FFJC. “The Law School has provided us with a home and allowed us to work with students and faculty who have been critical to the success of our organization.”
FFJC is one of the four nonprofit partner organizations that are located in NYLS’s Social Justice Hub, part of the Wilf Impact Center for Public Interest Law. From its inception in 2018, the Social Justice Hub has provided a dedicated physical space within the School’s Tribeca campus for outside nonprofit organizations. The proximity allows for the open exchange of ideas and collaborative social justice-focused projects involving faculty, students, and outside partners. NYLS students benefit from working side-by-side with practicing lawyers in public interest fields.
Read more about the donation and how it will bolster FFJC’s national campaign—as well as their state campaigns in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York—for fines and fees reform.