The Debt Penalty

Depending on the jurisdiction, offenders are charged fees at nearly every phase of the criminal justice process. In addition to fines, interest, and penalties for late payments, offenders may be required to pay “user fees,” which differ from court-imposed fines. The sole purpose of user fees is to raise revenue for criminal justice systems, while court-imposed fines are intended to punish offenders or to provide financial compensation to victims.

Punishment Without End

Evans, Douglas N. (2014). Punishment Without End. New York, NY: Research & Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Criminal justice punishments are an investment that societies make to protect the safety and order of communities. Following decades of rising prison populations, however, U.S. policymakers are beginning to wonder if they have invested too much in punishment. Policies adopted in previous decades now incarcerate large numbers of Americans and impose considerable costs on states. Mass incarceration policies are costly and potentially iatrogenic—i.e. they may transform offenders into repeat offenders. Public officials and citizens alike…

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Compensating Victims of Crime

Evans, Douglas N. (2014). Compensating Victims of Crime. New York, NY: Research & Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Victims of violent crime are often unable to access financial compensation to offset the costs of victimization (e.g., medical, lost wages, funeral expenses) despite the massive amounts of money set aside for just that purpose. Currently, there is about $11 billion in the federal Crime Victims Fund (CVF). Less than 10 percent of this amount is allocated to state victim compensation programs. This report explores the funding mechanisms used by federal and state governments to…

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