Library Fines and Regulation

This is a growing movement for public libraries to slash overdue book fines. (My local library just reduced its fines by half.) The rationale for this change is that fines impose a disproportionate burden on poor patrons and tend to discourage them from borrowing. A more effective (and distributively neutral) approach is to impose short suspensions of borrowing privileges on people who keep on returning books late.

I wonder if there is an insight here for other areas where fines or damages are used to regulate behavior.  Bail is a good example, as there is increasing interest in bail reform motivated by the fact that bail operates in a manner that discriminates against the poor (i.e. bail is being set too high for many criminal defendants).

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1 Response

  1. Driving 25 in a 20 says:

    Or we could replace traffic fines and asset forfeiture with community service.