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Special Report: How a legal system dependent on fines, fees affects Oklahomans

Special Report: How a legal system dependent on fines, fees affects Oklahomans

Criminal justice reform advocates argue that increased application of court fines and fees has led to a two-tiered justice system — one where those who can afford to pay go free while those who can’t afford to pay often get stuck in a cycle of increasing debt as they struggle to pay down what can amount to tens of thousands of dollars of legal debts.

In May, the Tulsa World examined how this system has grown in Oklahoma because of a greater reliance on court fines and fees to pay for various government agencies.

Since August, the Tulsa World has investigated this issue. Below is our multi-part series as we look at the people who are affected by this system and the toll it takes on them as they try to get their lives back on track.

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A Tulsa County group advocating to reform the entire court collection process believes treating court debt as a civil rather than criminal matter would do more than anything else to prevent Oklahoma from being what many believe is some level of a debtors’ prison system.

Young mother trying to rebuild life feared probation visits because of court debt, still has jail fees to worry about

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