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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: June 2020

11 - Nor Excessive Fines Imposed

from Part II - The Landscape of Eighth Amendment Doctrine


Across America, federal, state, and local governments use economic sanctions to punish juveniles and adults in cases ranging from low-level traffic tickets, to truancy, to theft, to murder. Millions of people now struggle with debt resulting from these practices. Increasingly, people report having to forgo basic necessities, such as food, housing, winter coats for their children, toilet paper, necessary medical care, and more, in an attempt to extract themselves from these debts. For those who cannot pay immediately, lawmakers have directed the imposition of further punishments, in the form of additional debt, loss of driver’s licenses and voting rights, and even incarceration. Still others lose their homes, their cars, business equipment, and other possessions to forfeiture — cutting them off from stable housing, disrupting access to employment and educational services, and restricting the availability of food and medical care — at times without ever having been convicted of a crime.