This study examined the imposition of three economic sanctions, fines, costs, and restitution in Philadelphia between 1994 and 2000.
Economic sanctions have been used infrequently as a sanction within the criminal justice system. For various reasons, such as jail overcrowding and high criminal justice system costs, the use of economic sanctions are beginning to be imposed more frequently. The current study examined the relationship between fines, costs, and restitution by examining data from 84,970 cases that occurred in Philadelphia between 1994 and 2000. The imposition of each sanction overall and by year was assessed and a multivariate analysis examined the imposition of each type of sanction. Results revealed that overall there was an increase over time in the proportion of cases requiring restitution to private individual or business victims, but there was a decrease in the proportion of cases imposing fines and costs. Restitution was imposed in 83 percent of cases in which the State was the victim. Restitution was more often imposed for property offenses, while fines and costs were more often imposed for nonproperty crimes, most of which were violent offenses. Overall, the findings suggest that judges may be assessing defendant’s ability to pay when considering economic sanctions. Future research should probe whether the imposition of economic sanctions versus incarceration differs in rural and urban counties. Tables, references, endnotes