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Assessing the Ad Hoc Nature of Financial Obligations Arising in the Illinois Criminal Justice System

By Marie Claire Tran-Leung

Involvement in the criminal justice system today often results in not only punishment for a particular offense but also the imposition of an array of financial fines, fees, and penalties that increasingly bear little rational relationship to the offense itself. These financial obligations do, however, directly affect how former offenders leaving the corrections system can successfully reintegrate into society since the financial burdens weigh most heavily on low-income defendants. As cash-strapped legislatures may be tempted to increase revenues by increasing these financial obligations, advocates should know how to oppose those fiscal policies that punish offenders long after they have served their time.

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