Sharnalle Mitchell (center) in Montgomery in May, after winning an injunction to stop the city from collecting court fines. With her (from left): attorney Alec Karakatsanis, fellow plaintiffs Lorenzo Brown and Tito Williams and attorney Matt Swerdlin. Courtesy of Alec Karakatsanis hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Alec Karakatsanis

John Kelly speaks during a campus rally about sexual violence at Tufts University on May 1. Courtesy of Leah Mushkin-Pierret hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Leah Mushkin-Pierret

Police officers equipped in riot gear line up during a protest of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown outside Ferguson Police Department Headquarters on Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

A line of people wait to speak during a meeting of the Ferguson City Council on Tuesday. The meeting was the first for the council since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a city police officer. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Roberson/AP

People line up to take part in an amnesty program to clear up outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrants in August 2013, in Ferguson, Mo. For those living on the economic margins, the consequences of even a minor criminal violation can lead to a spiral of debt, unpaid obligations, unemployment and even arrest. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Roberson/AP

Carson Luke, 13, was injured when he was restrained at a school in Virginia when he was 10 years old. Sarah Tilotta/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sarah Tilotta/NPR

Tom Barrett returned to the convenience store where he stole a can of beer. He spent time in jail, not for the crime, but because he couldn't afford the fines and fees that went along with wearing an electronic monitoring device. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Joseph Shapiro/NPR

Kyle Dewitt was sentenced to three days in jail after he was unable to pay fees associated with catching a fish out of season. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Joseph Shapiro/NPR

The proliferation of court fees has prompted some states, like New Jersey, to use amnesty programs to encourage the thousands of people who owe fines to surrender in exchange for fee reductions. At the Fugitive Safe Surrender program, makeshift courtrooms allow judges to individually handle each case. Nicole Beemsterboer/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Nicole Beemsterboer/NPR