In a recent webinar for the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, RSF author Alexes Harris (University of Washington) discussed research on monetary sanctions from her 2016 book A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Legal Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor.
In the book, Harris analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions, including fines and court fees, in the U.S. criminal justice system. Harris, who investigated court practices in Washington state for over eight years, reveals how fees for public defenders and other processing charges penalize low-income defendants. Until these debts are paid in full, individuals remain under judicial supervision, subject to court summons, warrants, and jail stays. By permanently binding poor offenders to the judicial system, monetary sanctions create a two-tiered legal system that perpetuates racial and economic inequality.
Watch the webinar in full above.