On Demand Audio

Their Debt to Society: Criminal Justice Financial Obligations

(457 reviews)

Produced on May 12, 2016

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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Last year, the United States Department of Justice released the results of its investigation into the law enforcement practices of Ferguson, Missouri, and brought national attention to a municipal criminal justice system that was funded primarily by imposing fees and fines on the criminal defendants brought before it.  


Although it was the subject of the DOJ investigation, Ferguson is not unique. States and municipalities around the country increasingly rely on criminal fees and fines to fund local law enforcement and court systems.  


In this program, Erika Wood, Professor of Law at New York Law School, discusses the different categories of criminal justice-related financial obligations, the role these financial penalties play in criminal prosecution and defense, as well as their impact on successful rehabilitation and reentry. The program includes state-specific information for California, Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia. 


Learning Objectives:

I.     Understand the various categories of criminal justice financial obligations

II.    Become familiar with the Department of Justice’s findings related to criminal justice financial obligations

III.   Appreciate the role financial obligations play in the criminal justice system

IV.   Recognize the impact financial obligations have on defendants within the criminal justice system and on successful reentry and rehabilitation

V.    Identify specific state policies and reforms related to criminal justice financial obligations

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Erika Wood

New York Law School

Erika L. Wood is a Professor of Law at New York Law School where she directs the Voting Rights and Civic Participation Project. Prior to joining NYLS, Professor Wood was a Deputy Director at the Brennan Center for Justice where she designed and launched major reform campaigns around the country and provided legal counsel and strategic guidance to advocates, legislators, and policymakers nationwide. She created the Brennan Center Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Advisory Council as well as the Center’s Communities of Faith Initiative.


Professor Wood has litigated complex civil rights cases in the areas of employment discrimination, voting rights and health privacy. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on voting rights, criminal justice reform and racial justice issues. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets across the country, including The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Public Radio.


In 2012, Professor Wood was recognized as one of the “most accomplished and innovative campaign and elections experts in the country” by the website topwonks.org. In 2009, Professor Wood was awarded the Eric. R. Neisser Public Interest Award by Rutgers Law School in recognition of her efforts to carry forward the law school’s mission of providing liberty and justice for all.


Professor Wood previously taught as an adjunct professor in the Public Policy Advocacy Clinic at New York University School of Law. She was also an attorney with the Legal Action Center where she worked on HIV/AIDS discrimination and privacy issues as well as criminal justice policy. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Stephen Skillman, Presiding Judge of the New Jersey Appellate Division. Professor Wood earned her B.A. cum Laude from New York University and her J.D. with honors from Rutgers Law School where she was appointed to the order of the coif.


Dennis Y.

Very well done.

Albert Y. S.

A real eye-opener for someone who has no experience with the criminal justice system.

Laura V.

Excellent informative program

Scott R.


Linda K.

Great presentation! I'm appalled that we still have a debtors's prison effect in our criminal justice system and that law enforcement anywhere in the U.S. is focused on revenue generation rather than public safety.

Thomas G.

Excruciatingly dull presentation, even for an attorney.

Trina R.

To the point, very specific guidance on how to help

John E.

Excellent presentation

David M.

Good lecture

Raph M.

Great overview. This is an important topic and was covered very thoroughly.

John H.

Fascinating, enlightening (and somewhat horrifying).

Andrew A.

very detailed

Thomas E. K.

Very interesting.

Pat C.

I've been concerned about this for years. Thank you for the additional info.

Theodore H.

As advertised

Kristine C.

EXCELLENT PRESENTATION BY A GIFTED SPEAKER! Course materials also excellent. One of top three courses I've taken on Lawline. I appreciate her knowledge, wisdom and compassion for the criminal.

John M.

This is the best course I have ever taken online.

david b.

Thank you :)

Anne R.

just terrific information

Angela D.

Excellent speaker, presentation and materials. Thanks so much!

Stephen C.

Interesting discussion on a topic I had never really thought about before.

James G.

Excellent coverage of this important subject.

Kevin M.

good content

Frank R.

Very interesting!

Cynthia W.

Thank you for the excellent materials.

mark s.

Thank you

Carey L.

This course was a reminder of the tests to be applied before various financial obligations may be imposed on persons accused and persons sentenced. It presented a national perspective on what has come to be an issue of great concern in my state (Illinois).

Julie A. B.

Thanks for the first-rate supplemental materials. They are a great resource.

Diane E.

what an awakening relative to fees assessed

Kelly J. B.

Thank You!

Andrea K.

This is a great webinar and a great series. It would be really helpful to lots of other professionals working with people who are exoffenders and having challenges returning to their community. thanks for covering this.

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