"In order to be in compliance with the LFOs and the fines, it created poverty for me that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. Accountability is important, especially when you’ve made some of the choices that I’ve made, to society and to my family, but the money piece is damaging and very sad, very sad. Because if I wasn’t making what I was making and I wasn’t married, we wouldn’t be eating. . . . I feel like they own me."
Like mother, like daughter, says Maria. Single, teenage mom. Subsidized housing. Working hard. Addicted to heroin. She was convicted twice: once for check fraud and the second for delivery of methamphetamines. In addition to her prison sentences, the court required Maria to pay $4,000 in LFOs. After she was released, she was earning $9 per hour, trying to support her two children and make a $25 monthly LFO payment. When the LFO balance reached $13,000. a collection agency started garnishing her wages
She now pays $500 per month towards her LFOs.
IN MARIA'S OWN WORDS...
On Legal Financial Obligations . . .
"My LFOs went to collections. I was more inclined to get gas to go to work or buy the kids food or whatever thing I was doing just to survive. It seems illogical to me, especially if you are going to prison, to add something to the end of that. We pay our costs, our way if you will, when you go to prison You have to work 40 hours a week. Someone coming out, they don’t have money. It’s almost a guaranteed set up for failure.
I feel like they own me. And I will be and that will be my label until I get past this. 48:19. It’s very shameful. To have done what I did was shameful enough but. . and repairing all those things is enough. To have to go look for an apartment and have to disclose. It’s always gonna be there. This label. But this is like why can’t I get past this? At the same time, 48:46 in my profession, at least with this subject, it helps me to understand people because it’s no wonder, people never get past it. They can’t. I know it wholeheartedly, I’ve said it. If I wasn’t married, I couldn’t pay this much and still survive. I get it, yeah. I feel like they own me."