First Advisor

Michael Dimond

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration: Finance and University Honors


Business Administration




Fines (Penalties) -- United States, Sentences (Criminal procedure) -- Economic aspects -- United States, Criminals -- Rehabilitation, Discrimination in criminal justice administration




In the United States, legal financial obligations (LFO's), also known as monetary sanctions or criminal justice financial obligations, refer to the fines and fees that result from an individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Today, these fines and fees have become the most common form of punishment used by the United States' legal system. This paper answers the following research question: How can the ability to pay legal financial obligations shape the rehabilitation of incarcerated people in the United States?

Legal Financial Obligations are harmful to those entangled within the justice system, as shown by their cyclical nature and lack of regulated implementation. Furthermore, these monetary sanctions have been proven unnecessary due to the costs of collection often exceeding the revenues received from offenders and through the comparative effectiveness of rehabilitation programs. This paper assesses the issues with LFOs and suggests various solutions to motivate reform while maintaining a sense of fairness and public safety.


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