CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Giles on Effects of Criminal Fines and Fees

This paper estimates the government revenue, recidivism, and financial health effects of an increase in misdemeanor fines/fees. I leverage a statutory change in Milwaukee whereby convicted defendants were assessed an average additional $279 if sentenced after a certain date. Exploitation of this date in a regression discontinuity design reveals that about 28 cents of each additional dollar charged was eventually collected, often through the automatic application of posted cash bail to court debt. The increase in fines/fees increased the likelihood of felony recidivism, especially among Black defendants, but had no effect on credit score or other credit report outcomes.

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