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How Court Debt Erects Permanent Barriers to Reentry


How Court Debt Erects Permanent Barriers to Reentry

Theresa Zhen

One of the most significant barriers to reentry is the imposition of fines, fees, surcharges, costs, and other monetary penalties (collectively “criminal justice debt”). One-third of California’s released prisoners return home to Los Angeles following their incarceration. They are hobbled not only by restrictive rules, laws and policies relating to their criminal histories, but also by debts that limit their available resources to successfully reenter society.


Post incarceration continuing punishment. When you have supposedly did your time and paid your debt to society ...my ass! Once you have a felony conviction, your punishment continues long after your sentence. Perhaps for a lifetime. Worst of all you can't get a decent job so as to keep yourself out of jail. There is no paying your debt to society except on TV. The reality is that they keep making you pay forever.


This is similar to what became notorious after Ferguson. Putting lower income people into debt, and sometimes jail. This is about getting money, not law enforcement.