Brennan Center for Justice: Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 17, 2010

Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry, By Alicia Bannon, Mitali Nagrecha, Rebekah Diller, 10/04/10

  • “Many states are imposing new and often onerous “user fees” on individuals with criminal convic­tions. Yet far from being easy money, these fees impose severe – and often hidden – costs on com­munities, taxpayers, and indigent people convicted of crimes. They create new paths to prison for those unable to pay their debts and make it harder to find employment and housing as well to meet child support obligations. This report examines practices in the fifteen states with the highest prison populations, which to­gether account for more than 60 percent of all state criminal filings. We focused primarily on the proliferation of “user fees,” financial obligations imposed not for any traditional criminal justice purpose such as punishment, deterrence, or rehabilitation but rather to fund tight state budgets.”
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