1932

Abstract

Revenue generated through the criminal justice system has become a key component of local government budgets across the United States. Although numerous restrictions exist to constrain traditional sources of revenue, only recently have legislators introduced checks on the fiscal profitability of fines, fees, forfeitures, and asset seizures. Left unrestricted, fiscal incentives have demonstrably manifested in the enforcement patterns and discretionary decisions of police. The transformation of officers into agents of revenue creation leads to increased targeting of minority populations and out-of-towners, with emphasis on arrests that yield potential property seizure, with negative consequences for both community trust and the provision of public safety. Those burdened with legal financial obligations are disproportionately poor, positioning the criminal justice system as a pointedly regressive form of taxation. We discuss the mechanisms behind criminal justice revenue generation, the consequences to law enforcement outcomes, and policies designed to reform and mitigate revenue-driven law enforcement.

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2021-01-13
2024-06-20
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