Many people coming home from prison or jail are surprised to find that they owe lots of money to various courts, agencies, and people. The money you owe related to your court case (or old cases) can make it very hard to get back on your feet, which can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged.

While this Chapter includes some bad news about court-ordered debt that can never go away, it also includes some good news about changing laws. Reentry advocates—and even some politicians—realize that much of our justice system’s fines and fees don’t bring in very much money to the government and end up causing more harm to poor and systems-impacted communities.

This Chapter will give you some important information to help you better understand your rights, responsibilities, and opportunities when it comes to managing money that you owe due to your past court involvement (referred to in the rest of the Chapter as “court-ordered debt”). If you have questions, call Root & Rebound’s reentry legal hotline any Friday at (510) 279-4662.