Living with Conviction is the creation of documentary photographer and attorney, Deborah Espinosa. I believe that the purpose of law is to serve our communities, and to level the playing field, thereby create a more just society. The only way to know if a law is serving us is to listen to those most impacted.

More of my work is available at SameSkyPhoto.com

About

An unjust law itself is a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.”                                                                                                                                                            ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State is an education and advocacy project on the impacts of court-imposed legal financial obligations (LFOs) on formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in Washington State. 

Washington courts impose fines, fees, costs, and victim restitution on criminal defendants at the time of sentencing, which 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.

"It’s an act of love and an act of faith to allow yourself to feel the pain of another."

                                           ~ Isabel Wilkerson

Thank you to the City of Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture for support of this project!