Justice-Involved Individuals and the Consumer Financial Marketplace


A review of 225 diversion programs in 37 states found fees for diversion programs can range up to $5,000 for a single offense.

Contact with the justice system can destabilize people’s financial situation. This report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines the challenges justice-involved individuals and their families face due to predatory practices that target them due to a lack of transparency, fairness, and consumer choices in the market associated with every stage of the justice system. The authors find that the shifting costs for goods and services to incarcerated individuals from institutions, lack of choices in service providers, severe consequences from criminal justice debt, and barriers to accessing the broader financial marketplace create financial challenges that undermine successful reentry. Section five of the report focuses on criminal justice debt and sub-categories such as its legal and financial consequences, ability to pay assessments, and debt collection practices.

You can read the full text here

Key Findings:

  • One in three adults, or 77 million people, has a criminal record.
  • Incarcerated workers’ nominal daily wage fell from $0.93 in 2001 to $0.86 in 2017. 
  • People incarcerated and their families often pay for hygiene items, food, phone, and email access.
  • Money transfer companies have monopolized the industry and charge fees for each transfer into a commissary fund; a $40 online transfer to an individual at Louisiana State Penitentiary incurs a $6.50 fee, while a $250 online transfer incurs a $12.50 fee.
  • Upon release, people reentering society receive a prepaid debit card that often imposes fees for use and inactivity.
  • Third-party debt collectors can add additional fees and surcharges to the collection process; Florida permits a 40 percent surcharge to the underlying debt.
  • A survey of justice-involved individuals found that 78 percent reported owing court debt.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau