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Financial Health and Criminal Justice: The Impacts of Involvement

Financial Health and Criminal Justice: The Impacts of Involvement

The Financial Health Network conducted a survey of more than 550 people to understand how each phase of involvement in the U.S. criminal justice system could impact the financial health outcomes of individuals and their families.

Across each phase of involvement with the criminal justice system, individuals and their families often experience negative financial health outcomes. To learn more about the criminal justice system’s impacts on financial health, the Financial Health Network conducted a survey of individuals who had been or are involved in the U.S. criminal justice system. The research reveals that justice system involvement requires individuals and their families to navigate many complex financial demands from pretrial to post-release, which can compromise their current and future financial health.

  • Pretrial detention creates an unplanned disruption for individuals and families that often comes with a sense of urgency to secure release by posting bail.
  • During incarceration, financial challenges continue to build, with more than a third of respondents experiencing a negative impact on household finances.
  • Upon re-entry, individuals often struggle to re-establish financial stability in the face of financial obligations from their time in the criminal justice system and limited access to key financial resources.
  • Fines and fees levied throughout the process can put pressure on individuals and their household budgets, which may already be operating with little slack.

The Role of Innovation

While policy solutions are critical to reform our criminal justice system, we know that the nonprofit and fintech sectors can play a role in better serving those impacted by the system. We’ve seen the innovation already occurring across the country, and we want to support and lift up that work. Through the Financial Solutions Lab Exchange and Collaborative, our goal in 2021 is to design grant programs that help pilot and test potential tools, products, and interventions to support justice-involved communities. 

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