Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures
Academy for Justice: A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform, Erik Luna, ed., 2017, Forthcoming
21 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2017 Last revised: 28 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 15, 2017
The use of fines, fees, and forfeitures has expanded significantly in recent years as lawmakers have sought to fund criminal justice systems without raising taxes. Concerns are growing, however, that inadequately designed systems for the use of such economic sanctions have problematic policy outcomes, such as the distortion of criminal justice priorities, exacerbation of financial vulnerability of people living at or near poverty, increased crime, jail overcrowding, and even decreased revenue. In addition, the imposition and collections of fines, fees, and forfeitures in many jurisdictions are arguably unconstitutional, and therefore create the risk of often costly litigation. This chapter provides an overview of those policy and constitutional problems and provides several concrete solutions for reforming the use of fines, fees, and forfeitures.
Keywords: fines, forfeitures, eighth amendment, excessive fines clause, due process, equal protection, poverty, right to counsel, policing
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation