Native Americans and Monetary Sanctions

Robert Stewart, Brieanna Watters, Veronica Horowitz, Ryan P. Larson, Brian Sargent, Christopher Uggen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Native Americans are disproportionately affected by the criminal legal system, yet comparative analyses of criminal legal outcomes and experiences among racial and ethnic groups rarely center the experiences of Native Americans. This multimethod study examines how monetary sanctions are affecting Native American populations in Minnesota. Drawing on administrative criminal court data and qualitative fieldwork, we find that Native Americans are subject to among the largest overall legal financial obligations (LFOs) in criminal court and carry the largest average LFO debt loads relative to other racial and ethnic groups in Minnesota, particularly when proximal to tribal lands. Moreover, monetary sanctions exacerbate existing poverty and spatial isolation in rural areas, compounding and further entrenching historical, systemic disadvantages that Native communities already face. We contextualize these findings within the broader history of U.S. settler colonialism, resource extraction, and dispossession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-156
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
© 2022 Russell Sage Foundation. Stewart, Robert, Brieanna Watters, Veronica Horowitz, Ryan P. Larson, Brian Sargent, and Christopher Uggen. 2022. “Native Americans and Monetary Sanctions.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8(2): 137–56. DOI: 10.7758/RSF.2022.8.2.07. This research was funded by a grant to the University of Washington from Arnold Ventures (Alexes Harris, PI). Partial support for this research came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research infrastructure grant, P2C HD042828, to the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. We thank Chloe Hendrix, Naomi Cowan, and Sarah Peckman for their feedback and assistance. We also thank the faculty and graduate student collaborators of the Multi-State Study of Monetary Sanctions for their intellectual contributions to the project. Direct correspondence: Robert Stewart, at, 2220 Samuel J. LeFrak Hall, College Park, MD 20742, United States. Open Access Policy: RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is an open access journal. This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Russell Sage Foundation.


  • Extraction
  • Indigenous
  • Monetary sanctions
  • Rural criminal justice
  • Settler colonialism


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