Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State is a collection of portraits and profiles of formerly incarcerated individuals who are struggling to survive and thrive under court-imposed costs, fines, fees, and victim restitution, aka “legal financial obligations” or “LFOs.” These costs on criminal defendants at the time of sentencing accrue interest at a rate of 12%.
Upon release from prison, a person typically has 30 days to make the first payment to the county clerk’s office, often a minimum of $25 per offense. Failure to make one LFO payment can result in either being found in contempt of court or in violation of parole, depending on the county where the person was convicted. Either way, an arrest warrant may issue and the person may be arrested. Upon arrest, the jailed person is not entitled to counsel.
LFO policy is designed to fund the criminal justice system on the backs of the poor and racial minorities, perpetuating cycles of incarceration and poverty. It represents institutional discrimination and structural racism at their finest.
On December 15, 4-5:30 PM, there will be a community conversation at the Kent Library with a few of the project participants who share their first-hand experiences with LFOs. Photographer Deborah Espinosa is an attorney at law and a photographer at heart. www.LivingwithConviction.org