Chris Uggen's Blog: piling on

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

piling on

via alternet: justice emily jane goodman writes about the rising fees assessed to criminal justice system clients:

there are arrest fees (Texas), booking fees (Colorado) and DNA bank fees (New York). Michigan bills for the services of court-appointed lawyers, creating an incentive to waive counsel or to plead guilty at an early stage before legal costs escalate. Eighteen percent of Rhode Island inmates are in custody in connection with court-imposed financial obligations. An open court debt in Florida leads to a suspended driver's license, which in turn can lead to loss of job or re-arrest for driving with a suspended license. Alabama judges can increase fees from $600 to $10,000. There are special fees for particular offenses such as sex crimes, abuse of children or the elderly and, especially, driving while intoxicated.

yeesh. fees are sometimes even assessed for the legal defense of indigent clients. justice goodman's piece raises research questions that one could approach on a fine-by-fine or jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis:

1. to what (if any) extent have such fees risen in the recent past?

2. how much revenue do they generate?

3. does the revenue exceed the costs of administering and enforcing them?

4. to what extent are folks punished for failure to pay?

5. are outstanding financial obligations (ceteris paribus) negatively associated with reintegration outcomes (e.g., employment and family stability).

6. are outstanding financial obligations (ceteris paribus) positively associated with recidivism?

1 Comments:

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Jay Livingston said...

Not just the accused. Sometimes victims are charged fees. For example, a small town in Alaska under the leadership of the mayor(can't remember her name offhand) charged rape victims $1200 for a "rape kit" for collecting and processing DNA evidence.
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