Punishing the Poor: Criminalizing Poverty, Paying the (System's) Bills

Oregon Public Library

Paying the (System’s) Bills describes how as government agencies around the country faced dramatic budget cuts in the wake of the fiscal crisis, many turned to new sources of revenue to make up for budgetary shortfalls. One of the primary sources has been people processed by the criminal justice system. Many convicted people find themselves facing not only jail or prison sentences, or terms of community supervision, but also an ever-increasing host of fees from co-payments for representation and court-required treatment programs, to flat fee supervision fees and court assessments. The cumulative effect of these legal financial obligations often creates unintended consequences, some of which deserve greater attention by the public and policymakers.

This presentation uses field work from several counties throughout the United States as a lens for exploring the effects of requiring those punished by the criminal justice system to also pay an increasing share of its operating costs. Cecelia Klingele, UW-Madison law professor, will present.

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