This page contains selected research on court-imposed fees and fines in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Ranging in scope from county-level policy assessments to national practice scans, the research demonstrates the harmful impact that fees and fines have on youth, families, and communities. 

Articles and reports are divided into two research sections, juvenile and adult. Use the buttons below to navigate to them:

Juvenile Research
Adult Research
Juvenile Research

Juvenile fees and fines have only recently received significant attention from researchers and policymakers. The collection below represents the latest reports and articles documenting the nature, scope, and impact of juvenile fines and fees in certain U.S. jurisdictions.

An Economic Analysis of Charging Administrative Fees to Justice-Involved Youth
Debbie Mayer, Caitlin O’Neil, Khalia Parish,and Jenny van der Heyde
Goldman School of Public Policy, 2016
Double Punishment: Philadelphia’s Practice of Charging Parents for Their Child’s Incarceration Costs
Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Beasley School of Law and the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, 2016
The New Peonage
Tamar R. Birckhead, 2015
Delinquent by Reason of Poverty
Tamar R. Birckhead, 2012
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Adult Research

A growing body of research documents the harmful impact of fines and fees in the adult criminal justice system. The selected reports and articles linked below describe and analyze fines and fees in counties and states across the U.S.  

Louisiana’s Debtors Prisons: An Appeal to Justice
American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, 2015
Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry
Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, 2015
Fine Time Massachusetts: Judges, Poor People, and Debtors' Prison in the 21st Century
Massachusetts Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee, 2016
Criminal Justice Policy Program Harvard Law School, 2016
Less Is More: How Reducing Probation Populations Can Improve Outcomes
Michael P. Jacobson, Vincent Schiraldi, Reagan Daly,
and Emily Hotez, 2017
IN FOR A PENNY: The Rise of America’s New Debtors’ Prisons
American Civil Liberties Union, 2010
In Jail & In Debt: Ohio’s Pay-to-Stay Fees
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, 2015
Monetary Sanctions: Legal Financial Obligations in U.S. Systems of Justice
Karin D. Martin, Bryan L. Sykes, Sarah Shannon, Frank Edwards,
and Alexes Harris, 2017
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons: The Ways Court-Imposed Debts Punish People for Being Poor
American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Columbia Legal Services, 2014
Monetary Sanctions in the Criminal Justice System: A review of law and policy in CaliforNIa, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington
Alexes Harris, Beth Huebner, Karin Martin, Mary Pattillo, Becky Pettit, Sarah Shannon, Bryan Sykes, Chris Uggen, and April Fernandes, 2017
Pay Or stay: The High Cost of Jailing Texans for Fines & Fees
Texas Appleseed and Texas Fair Defense Project, 2017
Unequal Justice: Bail and Modern Day Debtors' Prisons in Nebraska
American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, 2013
Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design, 2015
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