Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Oklahoma’s Crime-Funded Court System

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Defense Attorney Chad Moody stands outside his downtown Oklahoma City office.

Oklahoma doesn’t like to raise taxes, and in 1992 voters passed a state question that required massive legislative majorities to do so.

But rising costs in the justice system still have to be paid for, somehow. Since then, the courts have turned to fees for funding more and more.

There’s a $50 fee for summary judgements, a $349 jury fee in civil cases, a $20 court reporter fee. If you get a DUI, there’s a $400 fee. In fact, the DUI fee is higher than the fee for a murder conviction, which is only about $100.

It’s the users of the court system, and more specifically the losers, who pay most of those fees, and many question the wisdom of that trend.


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