Past Due Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans

In New Orleans, as in many cities around the country, nearly every phase of the criminal justice system imposes a financial cost on the “users” of that system, even before they are convicted of a crime. These bail, fines, and fees take a steep toll on the people who face them and their families. They also affect taxpayers, who bear the cost of excess incarceration when people can’t pay.

This video highlights the voices of four so-called justice system “users”—people forced to pay bond or lose their liberty till trial. Their accounts help illustrate the problems inherent in this system, particularly the difficult choices the criminal justice system pushes them to make: paying their bond fees and paying for food and clothing for themselves and their families; bailing out their family members or paying rent.

Learn more about the use of bail, fines, and fees:


Past Due

Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans

In 2015, government agencies in New Orleans collected $4.5 million in the form of bail, fines and fees from people involved in the criminal justice system and, by extension, from their families. Another $4.7 million was transferred from the pockets of residents to for-profit bail bond agents. These costs have become the subject of considerable publ ...

  • Mathilde Laisne , Jon Wool , Christian Henrichson
January 09, 2017

Bail, Fines, and Fees

A look at how bail, fines, and fees in the criminal justice system impact poor communities in New Orleans

The New Orleans criminal justice system, like many other local systems across the country, operates significantly on funding generated from the people cycling through it—from bail and associated fees before trial, to fines and fees levied after conviction. These practices come with hidden costs to defendants—the majority of whom are poor and black— ...

July 25, 2016

Women's Pathways Into and Out of Jail in Buncombe County

Findings from Research with Women Detained in Buncombe County and Recommendations for Reducing the Use of Jail

This report presents an analysis of women’s experiences with the local criminal legal system in Buncombe County, North Carolina: their pathways into and out of the jail, their living conditions and concerns during detention, and their perspectives on how services and systems in the county can improve. This study occurred in September 2021 at a time ...

  • Jennifer Peirce , Tara Dhanraj Roden , Sandhya Kajeepeta , Elizabeth Swavola , Jesmeen Grewal
November 16, 2022