How will this impact government revenue and police pay?
On average, in Colorado and its municipalities, only 4% of revenue comes from fines. That being said, several towns collect 30% or more from fines, with a couple collecting over 50%. This is simply unacceptable. No municipality should be allowed to rely on penalizing it's citizens to sustain a budget.
In addition, if fines are being routed to charities that directly support the core issues at the basis of the fine - such as homelessness, mental illness, stray animals, and even seat belt usage - less revenue is needed by the city. This is a win-win.
Ideally as incentive drops, so will the desire to seek out victimless crimes, allowing law enforcement and regulatory agencies to focus on crimes with actual victims.
If only 4% of revenue comes from fines, why pass this proposition?
One of the main goals of Stop the Shakedowns is to reduce the incentive to create more victimless crimes where the end goal is revenue collection. This doesn't mean fines cannot be collected or new fines cannot be required, but it means when they are levied, it will be for a good enough reason that governments will feel the crime justifies a "fine donation" to a charity rather than their own bank account.
We also do not want more municipalities to begin to rely on penalizing their citizens to balance their budgets. Stop the Shakedowns will prevent that before it can even start.
Why does this ballot initiative only focus on fines, and not other fees and court costs?
Stop the Shakedowns applies to all fines, forfeitures and other financial penalties. Colorado is a Constitutional single-subject legislation state. This applies to both legislation passed by the state legislature, as well ballot initiatives. Because of this, Stop the Shakedowns must remain focused on a single subject.
Does this only apply to law enforcement tickets?
Absolutely not. Colorado citizens are penalized on a regular basis for things as simple as cutting hair in their home without a license (statewide), or owning three dogs instead of two (certain municipalities), or allowing dandelions to grow on their property (Pueblo). These are just a few examples of the many non-law enforcement related "crimes" for which revenue is collected via fines.
Is this a partisan initiative?
Limiting government power is never partisan. Anyone, from any point on the political spectrum, will benefit from disincentivizing the use of citizens to increase government revenue.
In addition, by allowing citizens to pay their fines to charities, instead of government, people will be able to support the causes which they believe government is falling short on, reducing the need for government intervention in our every day lives.
Are fines sent to charity tax deductible?
If the charity you are choosing to send your fine to meets the necessary qualifications, then yes. Fines are tax deductible just as a normal donation would be.
What about crimes with victims? How is restitution and/or victim's compensation handled?
Stop the shakedowns believes in restorative justice, i.e., when someone suffers damages due to the actions or negligence of another, the first priority is the victim. When a victim exists, the money from fines goes to the victim. If the fine exceeds the damages of the victim, the excess money goes to charity. If the fine does not cover the victim’s damages completely, the justice system remains available for the victim to utilize, just as it does today.
What charities are eligible for "fine donations?"
All registered and legitimate charities in the state of Colorado would be eligible for Stop the Shakedown's "fine donations".
Won't this be a bigger burden for fine paying citizens and municipalities?
Government is far from efficient. Some fines can only be paid in person or through the mail. Citizens don't feel incentive to pay their fines, so they set up payment plans instead or ignore them all together. By streamlining fine payment with the use of charities, and also increasing motivations to get fines paid, administration burden will be drastically reduced.