Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of this study?

Shadow costs, which are indirect costs associated with diversion, reentry, and rehabilitation programs/courses, have real consequences in the lives of poor and indigent people ensnared in the criminal legal system. However, the extent of these consequences is currently unknown. This study attempts to fill this knowledge gap by investigating the social, economic, and legal impacts associated with shadow costs.

  1. Who approved this study?

This research and its protocols have been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at UC-Irvine (HS# 2020-6135).

  1. What qualifications must be met to be a study participant?

  • Be at least 18 years of age or older,

  • Speak English or Spanish,

  • Have agreed or been sentenced to complete a diversionary, reentry, or rehabilitation program/course (anger management, parenting, anti-theft, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence/batter's intervention, and/or DUI/DWI) in the Superior Courts of Los Angeles, Alameda, Mono, Orange, Fresno, or San Diego.

At this time, we can only enroll participants who speak English or Spanish. For information about this study in Spanish, please visit En Español.

  1. What does it mean to be a study participant?

Once a person qualifies for study participation, they will be randomly assigned to the treatment or control group.

  • If a participant is placed in the treatment group, they will have all of their programs or courses paid for by the research team and may be eligible for additional subsidies if needed.

  • If a participant is placed in the control group, they will not have their programs or courses paid for by the research team.

All participants, regardless of their study group assignment, will complete a recorded entrance interview (~20-30 mins), weekly online surveys (~5-10 mins), and a recorded exit interview (~20-30 mins).

  1. What is the compensation for study participants?

All participants will be paid $15 cash upon completion of the entrance interview; $5 cash for each weekly survey completed (to be paid monthly); and $15 cash upon completion of the exit interview.

Total compensation for study participation will vary by program or course. For example, minimum compensation for a 3-month program or course is $90 (~3 hours of total participant time).

In order to be eligible for payments, IRS rules require that participants complete a W9 form at time of enrollment. This form will require participants to provide their social security number. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the research team for assistance at

  1. How long does study participation last?

The length of study participation is determined by the number of sessions, weeks, or months required to complete the diversion, reentry, or rehabilitation program/course. For example, a batter's intervention program must be completed weekly for 52 weeks (one year), while an anger management course may be completed within 12 sessions (or 12 weeks/3 months).

Participants may withdraw from the study at any time. Withdrawing will not affect study compensation already accrued; however, withdrawing may affect program or course payment if the participant is in the treatment group.

  1. How are study participants assigned to groups?

Once participants are enrolled into the study, they will be randomly assigned to a study group by a software program. We cannot predict, guarantee, or change the study participant's group assignment.

  1. Will participation in this study affect your legal case(s)?

No. We will not share any details of the study with the court, your attorney(s), or law enforcement. However, if a study participant successfully completes their program or course, their certificate of completion can be used in court as evidence of compliance.

  1. Will the information collected during the study be shared with others?

No. The research team will not share participant names or other identifiable information with anyone outside of the study team unless necessary for arranging payment, services, and/or for reporting taxable study benefits.

  1. How is participant information protected -- who has access, how is it stored, and am I safe?

Participant information is protected! Our research team is committed to the protection and safety of study participants and any information they share during and after the study. All answers provided to interview and survey questions will be de-indentified (i.e., the removal of personally identifiable information), stored on an encrypted server, and will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team.

All de-identified data will be made publicly available at the end of the study, but only the research team will have access to information about individual study participants. The research team also has a Certificate of Privacy and Confidentiality from the U.S. Department of Justice, which means that the privacy of individual participant data is assured by law. For more details on the project privacy procedures, confidentiality guidelines, and IRB protocols, please visit Privacy.

This research and its protocols have been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at UC-Irvine (HS# 2020-6135).

  1. What is the societal benefit of this study?

Our hope is that this research can empower policymakers, judges, practitioners, academics, system-impacted individuals, and the public to work together to build a more equitable justice system and healthier society.

  1. Is there any previous research on the role of money and inequality in the criminal legal system?

YES! There is a very clear and useful introductory article about what's-at-stake when money and punishment are intertwined in the U.S. criminal legal system. Members of the research team also recently published a major research article on poverty, public assistance, and financial punishments. In addition, there are a variety of research papers that address other issues involving money and punishment, like How the System of Monetary Sanctions Operates and The Consequences of Monetary Sanctions in California and other U.S. states.

  1. Is there a one page information sheet about the study that can be posted and circulated?

Yes. You can access the IRB approved study information sheet here.

  1. If you have additional questions about study participation, who can you contact?

For contact information, please visit Contact.