INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, wants to give Hoosiers convicted of crimes or traffic infractions who are unable to pay the $185 in required court costs an option to satisfy the debt besides spending 10 days in jail.
Pressel last week won unanimous chamber approval for House Bill 1087, awarding individuals credit against a court cost assessment equal to the state's $7.25 per hour minimum wage for each hour of completed court-ordered community service or other volunteer work.
"Community service is a great payment alternative for offenders who will never afford their court fees," Pressel said.
"Not only would this legislation make it so that offenders who would never pay their fees give something back to society, but it could also help with the overcrowding of our jails."
Current law permits judges to lock up any non-indigent individual who defaults on their court costs at a rate of $20 credit toward the debt for every 24 hours of incarceration.
Pressel said his community service plan instead would enable offenders to remain in their neighborhoods and the workforce, rather than continuing to spend time in jail at taxpayer expense.
Of the $185 in court costs generally assessed following a conviction, $138 is paid to the state and $47 to local government, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
A person would have to complete 26 hours of community service or volunteer work to satisfy the entire debt.
The proposal now goes to the Senate where it's sponsored by state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores.