Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Arnold Ventures Award to Support Monetary Sanction Collective Research

Posted: 2/25/2022 (CSDE in the News)

CSDE affiliate Alexes Harris has received an award from Arnold Ventures, partnering with Dr. Leslie Paik, University of Arizona; Dr. Sarah Shannon, University of Georgia, and Dr. Christopher Uggen at the University of Minnesota.

Building on the success of the Multi-State Monetary Sanctions study, Dr. Harris and her team will conduct four complementary research projects that aim to 1) capture and understand the broad scope and impact of monetary sanctions/legal financial obligations (“LFOs”) and 2) investigate alternative legal system reforms (collectively, the “Study”).

To accomplish these objectives, the proposed project will include four complementary but independent projects: assessments of promising LFO reforms; understanding the relationship between LFOs and child support debt; examining the relationship between LFOs and place; and understanding victims’ experiences with restitution and public support for restitution reform. Across these four projects, the team will collect a broad set of interview, individual-level court, and policy practice data to illustrate and understand the precarious nature of the lives of people who owe monetary sanctions and the systems that manage them. This includes individual-level data to examine the types of debt that people owe (e.g., eviction, child support, education, DMV or driver’s license data). These data will allow for the examination of the spatial concentration and patterning of monetary sanctions (e.g., are there certain cities, communities that shoulder a comparatively heavier burden of sentence amounts, or debt?). The team will analyze the variation between municipalities and counties, and urban, rural, and suburban reliance on monetary sanctions (e.g., how much revenue is generated by monetary sanctions, how this differs across spaces). The research team will also seek to better understand the types of statutory changes and local/state policy interventions that have recently occurred and to examine their outcomes. The team seeks to examine the consequences of legal and policy changes for legal systems and individuals (defendants, their families, and victims) and to explore the types of policy alternatives to monetary sanctions and the extent to which they would receive public support.

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