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The Financial Cost of a Criminal Conviction: Context and Consequences

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 45 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 121-145
Date Published
25 pages
Using data culled from in-depth qualitative interviews with a sample of persons under correctional supervision, this study documented the nature and prevalence of legal financial obligations (LFOs) for an offending population and explored how they affected post-conviction experiences.

Growing fiscal concerns for criminal justice agencies and punitive ideological shifts have increased the financial consequences of a conviction. The growth in legal financial obligations (LFOs), such as fees, fines, and restitution resultant from conviction has important implications for offender reentry, particularly offender reintegration and opportunities for social advancement. The results of the current study indicate a majority of ex-offenders experience some form of LFO, including fines, supervision costs, and child-support-related fees. Overall, LFOs diminished positive opportunities for offenders by compounding precarious financial states, limiting opportunities for upward social movement, and weakening positive cognitive change. Since research consistently identifies primarily adverse consequences from LFOs, policy implications are explored to mitigate negative individual and social outcomes for offenders. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018