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The debt penalty: Punishing the poor beyond incarceration.


We're at a point where court officials, politicians and policy makers are realizing we can't afford what we've done - we can't afford to have people housed at three strikes, or 25-to-life. State and local jurisdictions are just bankrupt trying to afford criminal justice. So at the state level they're creating more statues that will charge these costs onto defendants.

Sociologist Alexes Harris examines the social costs of the legal system's web of financial punishments - from the network of fines and fees that keep the poor in contact with and under control of the law enforcement and courts, to an increasing reliance on policing to make up municipal budgets - and explains how the system of monetary sanctions expands the racial and class inequalities already at the foundation of the American criminal justice system.

Alexes is author of A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor from the Russell Sage Foundation.

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Alexes Harris

Alexes Harris is an author and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington.


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