Focus and Focus+ Icon

Monetary sanctions and acquaintanceship density in rural court systems

Gabriela Kirk, Kristina Thompson, Beth Huebner, Christopher Uggen, and Sarah Shannon explore the construct of acquaintanceship density in rural court systems. They use ethnographic data drawn from interviews of court personnel and courtroom observations in Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri.


  • Monetary sanctions are a ubiquitous aspect of courts throughout the nation, by turns serving as both a form of punishment and revenue generation.
  • The application of monetary sanctions can vary across the spectrum of population density from urban, suburban, small town, and rural jurisdictions.
  • Acquaintanceship density is a key variable influencing how court fines and fees are determined and applied within local court systems.
  • Urban courts are more likely to employ routine decision-making and demonstrate less individualization in the sentencing of monetary sanctions whereas rural courts tend to allow for greater flexibility, though often within a more constrained set of choices regarding alternatives to legal financial obligations.


Court System, Fines & Fees, Justice System, Place, Place General


, ,