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Revenue Over Public Safety

How Perverse Financial Incentives Warp the Criminal Justice System

Past: Wednesday, July 6, 2022 1:00 pm
This is a virtual event
  • Carmen Best
  • ,
  • Lisa Foster
  • ,
  • Ram Subramanian
  • ,
  • Que Williams
  • Laura Coates
Perverse Incentives

Many Amer­ic­ans now recog­nize mass incar­cer­a­tion as an urgent social prob­lem, and bipar­tisan efforts to rein in the crim­inal justice system have taken off around the coun­try. Yet jail and prison popu­la­tions remain stub­bornly high.

One reason why is that offi­cials have deep finan­cial stakes in extend­ing the reach of the crim­inal justice system. Muni­cip­al­it­ies and law enforce­ment agen­cies collect fines and fees, seize private prop­erty, and rent out jail space. Police, mean­while, are profes­sion­ally rewar­ded for issu­ing tick­ets and making arrests while prosec­utors bene­fit profes­sion­ally and polit­ic­ally from secur­ing long sentences rather than exer­cising leni­ency. With so much money at stake, it’s little wonder that reforms have been stymied.

Join us for a live event on July 6 at 1 p.m. ET for a discus­sion of the compre­hens­ive approach that Congress, state legis­latures, local govern­ments, and law enforce­ment agen­cies must take to unravel these perverse finan­cial incent­ives. Led by moder­ator Laura Coates, CNN senior legal analyst, the panel includes Lisa Foster, the co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center; Carmen Best, the former police chief of Seattle; Que Willi­ams, a paralegal and civil advoc­ate of Arch­City Defend­ers; and Ram Subramanian, the managing director of the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. The panel­ists will discuss the new Bren­nan Center report Revenue Over Public Safety and expand on ways to truly fix the crim­inal justice system.

This event is produced in part­ner­ship with the MacAr­thur Found­a­tion.


The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law provides reas­on­able accom­mod­a­tions to people with disab­il­it­ies. Requests for accom­mod­a­tions for events and services should be submit­ted at least two weeks if possible before the date of the accom­mod­a­tion need. Please email or call 646–925–8728 for assist­ance.