Summary of Bad Bills





Real world impacts



This bill would authorize prisons to deduct at least 25% of a prisoner's wages and 75% of deposits made to a prisoner's personal accounts for the purpose of collecting restitution or court costs, prisoner filing fees, or any other court-ordered obligation. These deductions would be in addition to money already authorized to be collected for existing support orders.

This puts a huge financial burden on prisoners and their support systems on the outside. It will make it more difficult for family members to stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones, even though studies show that maintaining family connections is important for preventing people from going back to prison.



This bill would allow for cash bail paid by or on behalf of a defendant that would be otherwise be returned, to be diverted to pay any outstanding restitution, court costs, fines, or fees owed by the defendant for any criminal or delinquency case. The person who deposits the bail money will be notified of this possibility in writing beforehand.

This would create a huge disincentive for people to put up bail money for themselves or others, while creating incentives for locking people up. Fewer people paying bail means more people held in already over-crowded and costly prisons and jails.


D. Costa

This bill would require counties that don't use a private collection agency to create a collections enforcement unit for the purpose to collecting restitution and court costs, fines, and fees.

This would funnel taxpayers money to private collection agencies, with no proven benefit to anyone. State funding should be invested in helping people coming home from prison find jobs, not paying private corporations to extort them for money they don't have.



This bill would give a court order for restitution second priority (after support orders) for wage attachments or garnishments. The county treasurer would be allowed to use credit and debit cards provided for the payment of court costs and fines and make deductions from a bank account, subject to the agreement of the account holder. The bill would allow for the judge at sentencing to order a wage attachment of up to 25% of the defendant's earnings to be used for restitution, fines, or court costs.

Despite formal prohibitions against discrimination, wage garnishment creates an additional barrier for employers to hire formerly incarcerated people. It further punishes formerly incarcerated people who are likely already struggling financially on their return from prison, and makes it less likely that they will either seek or find jobs in the formal economy.



This bill would allow the PA Department of Revenue (the PA tax collector) to work with courts to determine if a taxpayer has court ordered obligations. If the taxpayer has court ordered obligations and is entitled to a refund, the refund can be intercepted to pay those obligations and can be charged an administrative fee.

Taking tax refunds from formerly incarcerated people, whether or not they have the ability to pay, creates further hardships that disproportionately impact poor and working class people.



This bill would increase the minimum penalty cost for a person who pleads guilty or no contest or is convicted of a crime or is placed in a diversionary program from $60 to $110. The bill would also divert an increased amount of money raised from penalty costs to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

People in prison are required to pay this money in order to be eligible for parole, regardless of their ability to pay. People are incarcerated for months or even years because they do not have this money. It costs approximately $95 per day to incarcerate someone in the state prison system. In addition to being cruel, this bill makes no financial sense for the state.