Who Pays? reveals that the costs of incarceration run deeper than budget line items and extend far beyond the sentences served. Whether behind bars or returning home, people who have experienced incarceration are a part of families – whether chosen or blood related – to whom them contribute and by whom they are supported. Families pay both the apparent and hidden costs while their loved ones serve out sentences and for a long time after. Our research found that families struggle to afford exorbitant financial costs while also dealing with intense emotional and physical trauma when a loved one is taken away.
Who Pays? Key Findings:
People with convictions are saddled with copious fees, fines, and debt at the same time that their economic opportunities are diminished, resulting in a lack of economic stability and mobility.
Forty-eight percent of families in our survey overall were unable to afford the costs associated with a conviction, while among poor families (making less than $15,000 per year), 58% were unable to afford these costs. Sixty-seven percent of respondents remained either unemployed or underemployed five years after release.