Nashville charts path toward reduced criminal court fines and fees

Jun 5, 2019

Credit nashville.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  -- Mayor David Briley wants to reduce the criminal court fees and fines that can trap Nashville’s poorest residents in escalating debt and jail time.

Briley recently announced the formation of a committee tasked with studying how the city can reduce court fees and fines. He also wants to reduce the city’s dependence on court revenue to fund a portion of the city budget.

In a written statement, Briley noted the problem is an “equity issue.” He says “Residents should not be prevented from improving their lives or moving forward because of often inequitable or antiquated fines and fees practices.”

The 13 member panel includes Sheriff Daron Hall, Police Chief Steve Anderson, District Attorney Glenn Funk, and Public Defender Martesha Johnson, among others.

Briley is asking the committee to document the current system of court fees and fines, assess how reducing collections might impact the city budget, and develop a plan for replacing lost funds with new revenue.

Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry tells WMOT that Nashville collects roughly $5 million a year in court fees and fines. That’s a tiny fraction of the city’s $2.2 billion annual budget.