Washington State Supreme Court Ruling stops legal financial obligations for people on needs based benefits!!!

Hello Washington State Social Workers,

 

Washington State Supreme Court Ruling stops legal financial obligations for people on needs based benefits!!!

 

Basically the Washington Supreme Court has decided that, in cases where the defendant is indigent and especially on SSI, they really can’t be made to pay court-ordered Legal Financial Obligations.  So people with limited income should not be required to go into debt for court ordered LFOs. Please encourage your clients to follow up with courts if they have old  fines to have them removed from the books. The debt can pose a barrier for many disabled people to housing and employment.

 

The court stated that if you are already on “means-based” benefits, especially SSI/SSP, or at less than 125% of the poverty-level, than the court should not be setting LFOs.

The detail is in the ruling if you would like to read further:

 

Also, check out the reasoning on pages 12-13, saying that the court CANNOT base LFOs on SSI income, and the court’s decision on poverty and “life choices” on page 15.

 

This is a win for people with little resources and justice involvement. We had talked in our legislative action committee about have talked about how get them removed for many years. What is odd is that it was already against the law.

 

If you are interested in more legislative action please join us for our committee meeting on 10/8/16 at 10 am. Just send an email and I’ll send information on how to phone in or join us in person.

 

 

Thank-you,

Ann Allen

NASW-WA

Legislative Action Committee Chair

annall3@uw.edu

 

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