Fines, Fees, Forfeitures, and Disparities: A Link Between Municipal Reliance on Fines and Racial Disparities in Policing

This research paper explores the relationship between how reliant a municipality is on fines and fees for revenue and police behavior during stops. Using a dataset of traffic stops made in North Carolina, the authors seek to answer whether a greater dependency on fines and fees by municipalities worsens racial disparities among people who are searched by police. 

You can read the full text of the article here, but it is behind a paywall. 

Key findings

  • When a municipality relies more on fines and fees for revenue, search rates decline for White drivers but not Black motorists, worsening the racial disparity of police search rates.
  • In places that are more reliant on fines and fees, greater disparities in policing exist.
Kelsey Shoub, University of South Carolina, Leah Christiani, University of Tennessee, Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina, Derek A. Epp, University of Texas, Kevin Roach, University of North Carolina