Reducing the Harms of Court Debt: Driver’s License Revocations are an Ineffective Policy for Increasing Court Collections (2022)

Tennessee law currently allows for the revocation of a driver’s license for court debt that is overdue.

This brief evaluates the impact of driver’s license revocations and finds no meaningful effect on court debt collection rates in Tennessee. It also provides policy options for systemic reform, including the elimination of driver’s license revocations, increased consistency in the ability-to-pay determination process, and implementation of either targeted or broad fee elimination.

Our brief provides a summary of our key findings and recommendations. For more detail, please see our full report here.

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Eliminating Juvenile Fines & Fees in Tennessee (2022)

Tennessee courts assess fines and fees on the parents or guardians of juveniles involved in the justice system. These court costs are an economic burden, particularly for low-income Tennessee families, and research shows that they could be leading to increased recidivism rates.

This brief describes the inequitable impact of juvenile fines and fees and underscores how their elimination would help Tennessee families and save taxpayer dollars by reducing recidivism rates in Tennessee communities.

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In 2019, Tennessee instituted a law that requires county courts to offer payment plans to low-income Tennesseans who owe court fines and fees. But access to these plans, as well as procedures for implementing them and for suspending the driver’s licenses of Tennesseans who have fallen behind on their payments, varies widely across counties.

This three-part series provides details on Tennessee’s system of fines and fees, including findings from a phone survey of county court clerks, and outlines additional steps Tennessee policymakers and practitioners can take to close gaps in payment-plan access and further alleviate the adverse effects of court debt on individual defendants and the public as a whole.

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This memo outlines key findings from an online survey conducted from February 3 to 11, 2021 by Hart Research Associates on behalf of ThinkTennessee of 504 Tennesseans who are registered voters. It finds seven in ten Tennessee voters (72%) are concerned about the high rate of Tennesseans with debt in collections, and a majority support reforms that would reduce government penalties on those in financial distress.

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This fact sheet analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, a new tool designed to collect information about how lives have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting both the latest economic conditions for Tennessee’s working families and important policy levers for state and local leaders to consider to mitigate ongoing economic distress.

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State of Our State: Women in the Workforce (2019)

Developed in partnership with the A Better Balance, this policy brief addresses the state of working women in Tennessee. It finds that half of Tennessee families depend on a female breadwinner. Yet, most women in our state face significant barriers to achieving economic security for themselves and their families.

The brief highlights pro-family policies that would make it easier for women to join and stay in the workforce, boosting economic growth and making our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.

State of our State Women in the Workforce - Think Tennessee

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Working Families and Economic Security Fact Sheet (2019)

Too many working families in Tennessee lack economic security.

Parenting is demanding—physically, emotionally and financially. But just how much does providing for a family in Tennessee cost? Are families in our state able to afford it? This Working Parents Day, we’re taking a closer look.

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