By Alexes Harris

Over seven million americans are both incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their felony documents usually following them for all times and affecting entry to raised schooling, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered financial sanctions that compel felony defendants to pay fines, charges, surcharges, and restitution extra inhibit their skill to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the increase of economic sanctions within the felony justice approach and exhibits how they completely penalize and marginalize the bad. She exposes the dangerous results of a little-understood section of felony sentencing and indicates the way it additional perpetuates racial and financial inequality.

Harris attracts from huge sentencing information, felony files, observations of courtroom hearings, and interviews with defendants, judges, prosecutors, and different court docket officers. She files how low-income defendants are tormented by financial sanctions, which come with charges for public defenders and numerous processing fees. until eventually those money owed are paid in complete, contributors stay below judicial supervision, topic to court docket summons, warrants, and reformatory remains. because of curiosity and surcharges that acquire on unpaid monetary consequences, those financial sanctions usually turn into insurmountable criminal accounts which many offenders hold for the rest of their lives. Harris reveals that such economic sentences, that are imposed disproportionately on low-income minorities, support create an enduring fiscal underclass and deepen social stratification.

A Pound of Flesh delves into the courtroom practices of 5 counties in Washington kingdom to demonstrate the ways that subjective sentencing shapes the perform of financial 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 be certain how a lot and while offenders may still pay. Harris exhibits that financial sanctions are imposed at varied charges throughout jurisdictions, with very little kingdom executive oversight. neighborhood officers’ reliance on their lonesome values and ideology may also push offenders additional into debt—for instance, whilst judges cost defendants who lack the skill to pay their fines with contempt of court docket and penalize them with extra fines or penitentiary time.

A Pound of Flesh offers a well timed exam of ways financial sanctions completely bind terrible offenders to the judicial process. Harris concludes that during letting financial sanctions pass unchecked, we've got created a two-tiered felony procedure that imposes extra burdens on already-marginalized groups.

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A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor (Amer Sociological Association's Rose Ser) by Alexes Harris


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