By Alexes Harris
Over seven million americans are both incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their legal documents frequently following them for all times and affecting entry to better schooling, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered financial sanctions that compel legal defendants to pay fines, charges, surcharges, and restitution additional inhibit their skill to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the increase of financial sanctions within the felony justice process and exhibits how they completely penalize and marginalize the negative. She exposes the dangerous results of a little-understood component to legal sentencing and indicates the way it extra perpetuates racial and fiscal inequality.
Harris attracts from vast sentencing info, criminal files, observations of court docket hearings, and interviews with defendants, judges, prosecutors, and different court docket officers. She files how low-income defendants are plagued by financial sanctions, which come with charges for public defenders and numerous processing fees. until eventually those money owed are paid in complete, participants stay less than judicial supervision, topic to court docket summons, warrants, and penal complex remains. due to curiosity and surcharges that acquire on unpaid monetary consequences, those financial sanctions frequently develop into insurmountable felony bills which many offenders hold for the rest of their lives. Harris reveals that such economic sentences, that are imposed disproportionately on low-income minorities, aid create an everlasting monetary underclass and deepen social stratification.
A Pound of Flesh delves into the courtroom practices of 5 counties in Washington country to demonstrate the ways that subjective sentencing shapes the perform of economic sanctions. Judges and court docket clerks carry a substantial measure of discretion within the sentencing and tracking of economic sanctions and depend on person values—such as own accountability, meritocracy, and paternalism—to ascertain how a lot and whilst offenders should still pay. Harris exhibits that financial sanctions are imposed at diversified charges throughout jurisdictions, with very little kingdom executive oversight. neighborhood officers’ reliance on their lonesome values and ideology may also push offenders extra into debt—for instance, whilst judges cost defendants who lack the potential to pay their fines with contempt of court docket and penalize them with extra fines or prison time.
A Pound of Flesh presents a well timed exam of ways financial sanctions completely bind bad offenders to the judicial method. Harris concludes that during letting financial sanctions pass unchecked, we have now created a two-tiered felony approach that imposes extra burdens on already-marginalized groups.
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Additional resources for A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor (Amer Sociological Association's Rose Ser)
A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor (Amer Sociological Association's Rose Ser) by Alexes Harris