Convicts will continue to pay court costs

DETROIT (AP) — People convicted of crimes will continue to pay millions of dollars a year to keep the lights on in Michigan courts, along with other operating costs, under a law signed Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer signed a two-year extension of a law that gives judges the power to put additional financial burdens on people in courts, mostly the poor. She also urged the Legislature to come up with a new system that “does not come at the cost of judicial independence and individual rights.”

A commission in 2019 recommended major changes in how courts are financed, but the issue hasn’t gained enough traction yet in the Capitol. Without an extension, the current law would have expired in October.

On top of fines and restitution, people convicted of crimes can be ordered to pay a share of a court’s operating costs, such as staff salaries, utilities and other services. Someone who is acquitted doesn’t get a bill for overhead, nor do parties in a civil lawsuit.


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