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Imprisonment for Fine Default

NCJ Number
D Moxon; C Whittaker
Date Published
4 pages
One hundred eighty-eight of the 210 incarcerated fine defaulters in England and Wales in July 1995 were interviewed to determine ways of recovering fines more effectively while reducing reliance on imprisonment.
Results revealed that 80 percent of the inmates had more than one set of fines imposed for different offenses. Twenty percent had six or more sets of fines imposed on a number of occasions. The average sum owed by the fine defaulters was 1,305 pounds. Two-thirds of the defaulters had served at least one previous custodial sentence, which indicated that for them imprisonment for fine default may not have been a strong deterrent. Three-quarters of the defaulters were unemployed and were receiving benefits. Five of 11 women had children prior to imprisonment. The most frequently used enforcement approaches were reminder letters (66 percent of cases) and suspended committal procedures (71 percent). Deductions from benefits were rarely used. Just over half the sample received income support and were candidates for deductions from benefit, but the option was explored in only 13 percent of these cases and used in only 3 percent of cases. Attachment of earnings was used in just 2 percent of cases; only one-fourth of the employed defaulters said that the option had been discussed with them in court. However, it was estimated that no more than 8 percent of the defaulters in prison would have been eligible for orders for attachment of earnings. Figures and tables


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