Friday, January 26, 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Mann Library Rm 102
Statutory Inequality: The Logics of Monetary Sanctions in State Law
Monetary sanctions include fines, fees, restitution, and other legal costs imposed on persons convicted of crimes. These sanctions are mandated in state statutes. Drawing on content analysis of legislative statutes in the state of Illinois pertaining to monetary sanctions and the ability to pay them, we ask three questions: What are defendants expected to pay for and why? What accommodations exist for defendants’ poverty? What are the consequences for nonpayment? We find that the neoliberal logics of personal responsibility and carceral expansion suffuse these laws, establishing the basis for transferring greater costs of government onto criminal defendants, offering little relief for poverty, and supporting severe additional penalties for unpaid debt. We argue that, through these logics, poverty enhances the culpability of defendants and legitimizes the further reach of the carceral state.