Population Health

July 31, 2019

How the private sector shapes ‘offender-funded justice’

Image of Dr. Alexes HarrisFines and fees are standard procedure in the criminal justice system — and the greater an accused person’s involvement, from challenging a traffic ticket to a felony conviction, the higher the costs.

In addition, the entities levying those fines and fees are not always the public agencies in charge. Private companies often contract to provide the very services that citizens are required to pay for: a bail bondsman after an arrest, a drug and alcohol assessment for a DUI, phone calls and video chats while in prison.

New research from the University of Washington use two Washington state examples as case studies of what Dr. Alexes Harris (pictured) and her research team sees as the extensive reach of the private sector into an already discriminatory system.

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