• In this Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 photo, Lisa Devaughn prepares a salad at her restaurant job in Oklahoma City. Devaughn, released from prison in April after serving nearly four years for forgery, found herself arrested within days of her release for warrants issued while she was in prison. She was processed through four separate county jails and now finds herself owing close to $1,000 a month in various supervision and other fines and fees, which is more than her take-home salary from a job at a local restaurant that pays $10 an hour. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    In this Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 photo, Lisa Devaughn prepares a salad at her restaurant job in Oklahoma City. Devaughn, released from prison in April after serving nearly four years for forgery, found herself arrested within days of her release for ... warrants issued while she was in prison. She was processed through four separate county jails and now finds herself owing close to $1,000 a month in various supervision and other fines and fees, which is more than her take-home salary from a job at a local restaurant that pays $10 an hour. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 photo, Oklahoma County Judge Ray Elliott poses for a photo in his courtroom in Oklahoma City. Elliott, a former prosecutor with a no-nonsense reputation said he's almost always willing to work with criminal defendants if they show some inclination to comply with court-imposed requirements. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    In this Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 photo, Oklahoma County Judge Ray Elliott poses for a photo in his courtroom in Oklahoma City. Elliott, a former prosecutor with a no-nonsense reputation said he's almost always willing to work with criminal defendants if ... they show some inclination to comply with court-imposed requirements. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016 photo, Tim Yarbrough signs up to use a computer at the Oklahoma Public Library in Oklahoma City.  Yarbrough, who recently completed a two-year prison term for drug possession, still owes more than $5,000, the result of 19 separate one-time fees, $40-per-month in supervision costs and other charges. Criminal defendants in Oklahoma can easily rack up several thousands of dollars in mandatory fees and court costs that often keep them locked in a cycle of poverty.  (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016 photo, Tim Yarbrough signs up to use a computer at the Oklahoma Public Library in Oklahoma City. Yarbrough, who recently completed a two-year prison term for drug possession, still owes more than $5,000, the result ... of 19 separate one-time fees, $40-per-month in supervision costs and other charges. Criminal defendants in Oklahoma can easily rack up several thousands of dollars in mandatory fees and court costs that often keep them locked in a cycle of poverty. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (The Associated Press)

As some states curb high fines, Oklahoma's go even higher

Markets Associated Press

When riots erupted two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, some of the tension in the black community was blamed on the use of court fines and fees that burdened many low-income people with debts they could not pay.

Continue Reading Below

Since then, some states have reduced fines for traffic tickets and offered amnesty to indigent offenders with large debts.

But Oklahoma lawmakers went the other direction. They increased dozens of fees covering all criminal and traffic offenses, hoping to more than double the share of state revenue harvested from the same source five years ago.

Behind the move is Oklahoma's miserable financial condition. The state budget has been hit by the energy industry's slump and tax cuts. Wringing more money from offenders also makes for good politics in a conservative law-and-order state.