UAB, Center for Justice Innovation, Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, and Applied Research Services receive $2.5 million grant to enhance quality of justice in communities

This is the largest grant the Department of Political Science and Public Administration has received.

peter jonesPeter Jones, Ph.D.The Center for Justice Innovation, in collaboration with the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Applied Research Services, will embark on a groundbreaking initiative aimed at enriching the quality of justice in communities grappling with fines and fees. The project, supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, will provide support for five jurisdictions across the nation.

“This grant will expand on my previous work with community partners to help municipalities across the United States create tailored reforms for the use of fines and fees,” said Peter Jones, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “By changing the way municipalities assess and collect fines and fees, we can reduce disparities among those who owe, and we can limit the harm fines and fees often cause to people’s economic, social and physical well-being.”

The key objectives of this initiative include:

  • Mapping and Analysis: The team will meticulously map and analyze fine and fee structures in each selected jurisdiction to evaluate the net benefit of existing practices.
  • Legal and Policy Assessment: An assessment will be conducted to evaluate the alignment of local and state laws and policies with constitutional standards and best practices regarding fines and fees.
  • Tailored Work Plans: The team will facilitate the development of customized work plans for each jurisdiction, defining specific goals and strategies for improvement.
  • Ongoing Support: The team will provide continuous expert assistance and engage in action research to support jurisdictions in the implementation of their work plans.

This collaborative effort, under the guidance of BJA, will pair experienced practitioners and researchers to address the specific needs of each jurisdiction. Additionally, each site will collaborate with a community consultant — a local advocacy, research or public policy organization — to ensure an inclusive and localized approach. The lessons learned from the selected sites will be leveraged to identify knowledge gaps and inform the development of project deliverables for national audiences.