Fine-Labor: The Symbiosis between Monetary and Work Sanctions

53 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2009


Monetary sanctions (fines and restitution) and work sanctions are theoretically superior to incarceration: they can deliver deterrence more cheaply, benefit victims tangibly, and promote offender rehabilitation. Yet incarceration remains the dominant punishment in America, even where incapacitation concerns are secondary. This is due in large part to practical drawbacks to the alternatives: monetary sanctions are difficult to enforce and do not seem punitive enough, and unions have successfully lobbied against the competitive threat of convict labor. In a hybrid "fine-labor" system, in which offenders are made to work to pay fines and restitution, the work component could remedy the flaws in monetary sanctions (e.g., by supplying both enforceability and retributive severity) and vice versa (e.g., by incentivizing the victims' rights movement to counter the influence of unions). This Article sketches a model fine-labor system, and addresses potential legal, philosophical, and pragmatic objections to its implementation.

Suggested Citation

Pritikin, Martin H., Fine-Labor: The Symbiosis between Monetary and Work Sanctions. University of Colorado Law Review, Forthcoming, Whittier Law School Research Paper No. 09-06, Available at SSRN:

Martin H. Pritikin (Contact Author)

Whittier Law School ( email )

3333 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
United States

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