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Criminal Justice Debt

Black and white closeup photo of several one hundred dollar bills.

Advocacy & Research

Criminal justice and economic justice meet at an intersection. In North Carolina, the costs and penalties imposed by the criminal justice system can be a heavy burden for the poor, while giving the wealthy a slap on the wrist. Poorer individuals who cannot afford to pay may be left with outstanding criminal justice debt. Such debt can hang like a cloud over one’s head, impacting households and communities, and potentially spiral out of control.

In June 2018, Reinvestment Partners released a report on criminal justice debt in North Carolina. This report examines the debt spiral for individuals indebted to the criminal justice system in North Carolina - particularly those with traffic infractions - and argues for targeted reforms at state and local levels.

The report was part of a multi-state collaborative addressing enforcement of civic debt in California, Illinois, Maryland and North Carolina.

Read the Reports


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  • Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust
  • Mecklenburg County
  • North Carolina Housing Coalition
  • North Carolina Housing Finance Agency
  • Pacific Western Bank
  • Pinnacle Financial Partners
  • The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Truist
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Wells Fargo
  • Equal Housing Opportunity
  • Bank of America
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
  • City of Durham Economic & Workforce Development
  • Fifth Third Bank
    Fifth Third Bank
  • First Horizon