The ACLU of Pennsylvania has conducted the first empirical study of the fines, costs, and restitution imposed and collected by Pennsylvania courts in criminal cases. Among the seemingly basic questions that have previously remained unanswered are the average amounts imposed in cases, how long it takes defendants to pay that money, and how long court debt remains uncollected. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has taken the first step to answer these questions by looking at ten years of court data from the Common Pleas Case Management System (“CPCMS”) used by Pennsylvania’s courts of common pleas and the Philadelphia Municipal Court. The report is the first step in better understanding the disproportionate burden that current practices impose on low-income Pennsylvanians in the criminal justice system.  

Imposition and Collection of Fines, Costs, and Restitution in Pennsylvania Criminal Courts: Research in Brief

By: Jeffrey T. Ward, Ph.D., Temple University, Nathan W. Link, Ph.D., Rutgers University-Camden, Andrew Christy, ACLU Of Pennsylvania, December 18, 2020