Economic Sanctions in Criminal Justice: A Multimethod Examination of Their Imposition, Payment, Effect, and Fairness

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Economic sanctions are court-imposed financial obligations aimed at punishing offenders (fines), funding the government (costs/fees, forfeitures), and compensating victims (restitution). This book examines economic sanctions in the United States, with a focus on the multilevel, multimethod research my students and I conducted in Pennsylvania. The 15 studies described in the book are multiplistic in terms of academic discipline (social psychology, criminology, law), levels of analysis (individual, county, state), actors within the system (victims, offenders, probation officers, district attorneys, judges), type of process involved (imposition, payment, rearrest), and research methods (analyses of state-level computerized archives, coding of county-level paper court and probation records, surveys of individuals, a field-experiment, and follow-up involving probationers). Most of the studies examined the imposition, payment, and effect of paying restitution. Research across methods indicated that offenders are often unable to pay their court-ordered sanctions, that restitution is generally not paid in full, and that both offenders and victims are responsive to procedural justice. Experimental results indicated that randomly assigned probationers delinquent in making payments who received letters informing them of the restitution amounts they owed were more likely to pay restitution and less likely to commit a new crime as compared to randomly assigned delinquent probationers who did not receive letters or who received letters giving them a rationale for payment. Three policy recommendations are made concerning what is fair and effective for victims, offenders, and society: (1) mandating restitution, (2) making fines contingent on ability to pay, and (3) ending the imposition of costs and fees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages230
ISBN (Electronic)9780190682583
ISBN (Print)9780190682613
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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