By: Colin Sharpe, Andrew Christy ACLU of Pennsylvania, Jeffrey T. Ward, Ph.D, February 28, 2019

There has not been an empirical study of the fines, costs, and restitution imposed by Pennsylvania courts in criminal cases. Among the seemingly basic questions that have 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. We have released preliminary reports on court costs and fines. Later this year, we anticipate receiving updated and more complete data that will allow us to release a more comprehensive study of this topic.