The reality of "debtors prison" is something that we have to deal with. Especially when the economy is as bad as it is. Pushing people to the edge only increases the probability of a new crime as people will do anything to keep their heads above water and out of prison.
Paying a debt to society now means more than doing time. In addition to prison sentences or alternatives to incarceration such as drug programs, fees and surcharges are being imposed on criminal offenders throughout the country. In some states, offender-based revenues start to accumulate upon arrest, without a wait for conviction. These charges are in addition to any fines and restitution they may be required to pay.
Surcharges and fees are mandatory in all New York criminal cases. A felony conviction for drugs, larceny or burglary, for example, costs the defendant a statutory $300 fee plus $25 to a victims' fund. Judges have no discretion to waive them despite the defendant's likely indigence. As New York State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach says, "The imposition of mandatory surcharges, like mandatory sentencing, erodes judicial independence by tying the judges' hands even when they think that justice requires a different result."