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Poverty and wealth

  • (New) Wealth and Retirement: Pondering the Fate of Formerly Incarcerated Men During the Golden Years Paywall :( Ngina Chiteji, October, 2020“We find that formerly incarcerated men have little wealth accumulated by their late 40s and 50s, that they have limited access to on-the-job pensions, and that some may not even be able to rely on Social Security when they are old.”
  • Criminal Justice System Involvement and Food Insufficiency: Findings from the 2018 New York City Community Health Survey Paywall :( Alexander Testa and Dylan B.Jackson, September, 2020“Personal and family history of CRJ involvement is associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing moderate-to-severe food insufficiency.”
  • New York's Ferguson Problem: How the state's racist fee system punishes poverty, lacks transparency, and is overdue for reform No Price on Justice, September, 2020“A national study found that 34 New York localities are about as reliant, if not more reliant, on fines and fees revenue as Ferguson was during the period investigated.”
  • An Analysis of Court Imposed Monetary Sanctionsin Seattle Municipal Courts, 2000-2017 Frank Edwards and Alexes Harris, August, 2020“Seattle Municipal Courts still engage in a system of monetary sanctions that leads to disproportionate and negative outcomes for Seattle residents, and in particular, people of color.”
  • State supervision, punishment and poverty: The case of drug bans on welfare receipt Amanda Sheely, August, 2020“I find that poverty is lower among people with drug convictions in states that opted out of the drug ban, compared to full ban states.”
  • Police Killings in the US: Inequalities by Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Position People's Policy Project, June, 2020“Whites in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 7.9 per million, compared to 2 per million in the least-poor areas. Blacks in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 12.3 per million, compared to 6.7 per million in the least-poor areas.”
  • The Limits of Fairer Fines: Lessons from Germany Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, June, 2020“Germany also shows us that considering ability to pay at sentencing in every case is possible without being unduly cumbersome.”
  • In Trouble: How the Promise of Diversion Clashes With the Reality of Poverty, Addiction, and Structural Racism in Alabama's Justice Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, February, 2020“Fifty-five percent of them made less than $14,999 per year, yet the median amount they reported paying for diversion was $1,600 -- more than ten percent of their total income.”
  • Paying for Jail: How County Jails Extract Wealth from New York Communities Worth Rises and Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, December, 2019“We estimate that in 2017 the 57 counties outside of New York City extracted over $25.1 million for phone calls, $14.1 million for commissary, and $0.2 million for disciplinary tickets.”
  • Housing Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, December, 2019“Over the past thirteen years, there has been a dramatic increase in criminalization laws, yet access to affordable housing grows ever more elusive.”
  • The Steep Costs of Criminal Justice Fees and Fines: A Fiscal Analysis of Three States and Ten Counties Brennan Center for Justice, November, 2019(Criminal fines and fees burden the members of society who are least able to pay, and the costs of collection are many times greater than those of general taxation, effectively canceling out much of the revenue.)
  • Free to Drive: States punish poverty by suspending millions of driver's licenses for unpaid fines and fees Free to Drive, September, 2019“44 states and District of Columbia still suspend, revoke or do not allow a person to renew their driver's license if they have unpaid court debt.”
  • Can't Pay, Can't Vote: A National Survey on the Modern Poll Tax Campaign Legal Center and the Civil Rights Clinic at Georgetown Law, July, 2019“But, the majority of states condition rights restoration, either explicitly or implicitly, on the payment of legal financial obligations.”
  • Snapping Back: Food Stamp Bans and Criminal Recidivism Cody Tuttle, May, 2019“This paper provides evidence that denying drug offenders SNAP benefits has increased their likelihood of recidivism.”
  • New data: Low incomes - but high fees - for people on probation Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2019“Nationwide, two-thirds (66%) of people on probation make less than $20,000 per year.”
  • Too Poor to Pay: How Arkansas's Offender-Funded Justice System Drives Poverty & Mass Incarceration Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, March, 2019“In Arkansas, thousands have been jailed, often repeatedly, for weeks or even months at a time, simply because they are poor and cannot afford to pay court costs, fines and fees.”
  • Commercialized (In)Justice: Consumer Abuses in the Bail And Corrections Industry National Consumer Law Center, March, 2019“The growth of the corrections industry accelerates the trend whereby the costs of our legal system are imposed on low-income, disadvantaged communities least able to shoulder such burdens, rather than shared as a collective public responsibility.”
  • Driver's License Suspension in North Carolina Brandon L. Garrett and William Crozier, March, 2019“We found that there are 1,225,000 active driver's licenses suspensions in North Carolina for non-driving related reasons, relating to failure to pay traffic fines and court courts, and failure to appear in court for traffic offenses.”
  • Towed into Debt: How Towing Practices in California Punish Poor People Western Center on Law & Poverty, March, 2019“For many Californians, a vehicle tow means the permanent loss of their car and, along with it, the loss of employment, access to education and medical care, and, for some, their only shelter.”
  • No Credit For Time Served? Incarceration and Credit-Driven Crime Cycles Abhay Aneja and Carlos Avenancio-Leon, February, 2019“Incarceration significantly reduces access to credit, and that in turn leads to substantial increases in recidivism, creating a perverse feedback loop.”
  • Return to Nowhere: The Revolving Door Between Incarceration and Homelessness Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, February, 2019“People experiencing homelessness are 11 times more likely to face incarceration when compared to the general population, and formerly incarcerated individuals are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.”
  • Punishing Homelessness Sara Rankin, January, 2019“Cities throughout the country are increasingly enacting and enforcing laws that punish the conduct of necessary, life-sustaining activities in public, even when many people have no other option.”
  • Criminal Justice Debt in the South: A Primer for the Southern Partnership to Reduce Debt National Consumer Law Center, December, 2018“The excessive criminal justice debts that burden people leaving prison create a barrier to successful reentry, contributing to cycles of incarceration.”
  • Under Pressure: How fines and fees hurt people, undermine public safety, and drive Alabama's racial wealth divide Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, October, 2018(83% of people surveyed gave up necessities like rent, food, medical bills, car payments, and child support, in order to pay down their court debt.)
  • Philadelphia Bail Watch Report Findings and Recommendations based on 611 Bail Hearings Philadelphia Bail Fund & Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, October, 2018“Philadelphia's preliminary arraignment system disadvantages individuals charged with crimes and, as a result, threatens one of the most sacred principles in our nation's criminal justice system: a person is innocent until proven guilty”
  • How New Orleans Funds Justice Vera Institute of Justice, September, 2018“New Orleans's criminal justice system has a funding structure that requires the court and other justice system agencies to raise revenues by imposing fees on people who come in contact with the system.”
  • report thumbnail Nowhere to Go: Homelessness among formerly incarcerated people Prison Policy Initiative, August, 2018“Formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.”
  • Criminal Justice Administrative Fees: High Pain for People, Low Gain for Government The Financial Justice Project of San Francisco, May, 2018“Over the last six years, more than 265,000 fines and fees have been charged to local individuals, totaling almost $57 million.”
  • Racial Bias in Bail Decisions David Arnold, Will Dobbie, and Crystal S. Yang, April, 2018“Estimates from Miami and Philadelphia show that bail judges are racially biased against black defendants, with substantially more racial bias among both inexperienced and part-time judges.”
  • Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force: Report and Recommendations Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force, March, 2018(Money bail should not be used to simply detain defendants. Rather than relying on bond schedules, courts should assess each defendant's risk of non-appearance and danger to the community using a uniform risk assessment tool.)
  • Presumed Innocent for a Price: The Impact of Cash Bail Across Eight New York Counties New York Civil Liberties Union, March, 2018(This report shows that over a five year period, tens of thousands of New Yorkers were jailed without having had their day in court simply because they could not pay bail.)
  • New data highlights pre-incarceration disadvantages Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2018“Boys born into families at the bottom 10% of the income distribution are 20 times more likely to experience prison in their 30's than their peers born into the top 10%.”
  • "Set up to Fail": The Impact of Offender-Funded Private Probation on the Poor Human Rights Watch, February, 2018“This report examines the use and impact of privatized probation services for misdemeanor offenses in four US states, and provides recommendations to protect against the abuses of criminal justice debt.”
  • A Pound of Flesh The Criminalization of Private Debt American Civil Liberties Union, February, 2018“Arrests stemming from private debt are devastating communities across the country, and amount to a silent financial crisis that, due to longstanding racial & economic inequalities, is disproportionately affecting people of color & low-income communities.”
  • Civil Asset Forfeiture: Forfeiting Your Rights Southern Poverty Law Center, January, 2018(This report finds that civil asset forfeiture snares mostly low-level offenders and many individuals who are never charged with a crime in the first place into an unequal system that undercuts due process and property rights.)
  • The Price for Freedom: Bail in the City of L.A. Million Dollar Hoods, December, 2017(The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), using the Los Angeles County Superior Court's misdemeanor and felony bail schedules, levied over $19 billion in money bail on persons they arrested between 2012 and 2016.)
  • Policing the Houseless 2.0 Million Dollar Hoods, December, 2017“This report documents that LAPD arrests of houseless persons continued to climb during the first six months of 2017 and that just five charge categories accounted for the majority of houseless arrests.”
  • Criminal Justice Debt Costs and Consequences The Fortune Society, October, 2017“In the United States today, people owe local, state, and federal governments billions of dollars in unpaid debt related to contact with the criminal justice system.”
  • Driven by Dollars: A State-By-State Analysis of Driver's License Suspension Laws for Failure to Pay Court Debt Legal Aid Justice Center, September, 2017“43 states (and D.C.) suspend driver's licenses because of unpaid court debt.”
  • Seizing Chicago: Drug stings and asset forfeiture target the poor Prison Policy Initiative, August, 2017“Instead of protecting Chicago's communities, state asset forfeiture practices and drug stings set up by federal agents target low-income, Black, and Latino residents, setting them up to fail.”
  • Trends in State Courts Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices--Challenges and Opportunities National Center for State Courts, July, 2017“Low-income offenders in many towns and cities are faced with paying fines and fees they simply cannot afford, often leading to even more fees and late charges.”
  • Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California's Traffic Court System Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, May, 2017“The available county-level data shows that African-American people in particular are four to sixteen times more likely to be booked on arrests related to failure to pay an infraction ticket.”
  • How much do incarcerated people earn in each state? Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2017“[P]risons appear to be paying incarcerated people less today than they were in 2001. The average of the minimum daily wages paid to incarcerated workers for non-industry prison jobs is now 87 cents, down from 93 cents reported in 2001.”
  • Mass incarceration, public health, and widening inequality in the USA Christopher Wildeman, Emily A Wang, April, 2017“Soaring incarceration since the mid-1970s has profoundly affected health in the USA, especially in poor and minority communities.”
  • How Do People in High-Crime, Low-Income Communities View the Police? Urban Institute, February, 2017“27.8% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that police almost always behave according to the law. Approximately one-third agreed or strongly agreed that police stand up for values that are important to them and often arrest people for no good reason.”
  • Sentencing Outcomes in U.S. District Courts: Can Offenders' Educational Attainment Guard Against Prevalent Criminal Stereotypes? Travis W. Franklin, Sam Houston State University, February, 2017“[C]ourt actors may be less concerned (or not at all concerned) with factors typically linked to perceptions of dangerousness (e.g., race, ethnicity, age, sex, detention status) when dealing with offenders of higher educational status.”
  • Helping Moms, Dads, & Kids To Come Home: Eliminating Barriers to Housing for People with Criminal Records Legal Action Center, December, 2016“America’s “revolving-door” approach to mass incarceration is inextricably linked to the problem of homelessness.”
  • Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training National Center for Education Statistics, November, 2016“Around two-thirds of the survey’s respondents reported that they were working prior to their incarceration: about half of them were employed full-time, with another 16 percent working part-time.”
  • Ban The Box In Employment: A Grassroots History All Of Us or None (Legal Services for Prisoners With Children), October, 2016“Today, between all of the states and localities that have Ban the Box, over 185 million Americans now live in areas that have adopted fair chance hiring policies.”
  • "Forced into Breaking the Law": The Criminalization of Homelessness in Connecticut Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, October, 2016“This cycle of incarceration and homelessness comes at a steep cost to people experiencing homelessness, as well as to taxpayers, all while failing to address the root cause of homelessness: a lack of housing solutions.”
  • The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the U.S. Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation, October, 2016“This study estimates the annual economic burden of incarceration in the United States [by including] important social aggregate burden of one trillion dollars.”
  • Confronting Criminal Justice Debt: A Guide for Policy Reform Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, September, 2016“By disproportionately burdening poor people with financial sanctions, and by jailing people who lack the means to pay, many jurisdictions have created a two-tiered system of criminal justice.”
  • Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment Amanda Agan and Sonja Starr, June, 2016“Our results confirm that criminal records are a major barrier to employment, but they also support the concern that BTB policies encourage statistical discrimination on the basis of race.”
  • The Crippling Effect of Incarceration on Wealth Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2016“Once released, that individual may make gains in wealth accumulation, but they will always remain at significantly lower levels of wealth compared to those who are never incarcerated in their lifetime.”
  • Jobs After Jail: Ending the prison to poverty pipeline Alliance for a Just Society, February, 2016“For the 70 million adults with a serious misdemeanor or felony arrest or conviction record and the hundreds of thousands more each year released from prison, their record can be a life sentence of poverty and low wages.”
  • Too High a Price: What Criminalizing Homelessness Costs Colorado Homeless Advocacy Policy Project, February, 2016“Cities issue citations to homeless residents at a staggering rate.”
  • Right to Counsel in Utah: An Assessment of Trial-Level Indigent Defense Services Sixth Amendment Center, October, 2015“Utah’s trial courts do not uniformly provide counsel to indigent defendants at all critical stages of criminal cases as required by the U.S. Supreme Court[.]”
  • No Right to Rest: Criminalizing Homelessness in Colorado The Denver Homeless Out Loud Report Team, April, 2015“In addition to formal citation and arrest, this survey finds evidence of extrajudicial harassment of homeless people. Both police and private security forces commonly harass and enforce punishments on homeless people, even without legal authority to do so”
  • The Debt Spiral: How Chicago's Vehicle Ticketing Practices Unfairly Burden Low-Income and Minority Communities Woodstock Institute, 2015“Tickets are disproportionally issued to drivers from low-income and minority areas, who then become trapped in an inescapable cycle of debt simply because they lack the means to pay these tickets.”
  • Driving on Empty: Florida's Counterproductive and Costly Driver's License Suspension Practices Fines & Fees Justice Center, 2015“Between 2015-2017, more than 3.5 million suspension notices were issued for unpaid court debt.”
  • No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, July, 2014“Despite a lack of affordable housing and shelter space, many cities have chosen to criminally punish people living on the street for doing what any human being must do to survive.”
  • The Degree of Disadvantage: Incarceration and Inequality in Education Stephanie Ewert, Bryan L. Sykes, and Becky Pettit, November, 2013“Nearly three in ten white male dropouts in the United States can expect to serve time in a state or federal correctional facility in their lifetime, and nearly 60 percent of black male dropouts are imprisoned at some point in their lives...”
  • Realigning Justice Resources A Review of Population and Spending Shifts in Prison and Community Corrections Vera Institute of Justice, September, 2012“Between 2009 and 2010, Vera observed a stark downward shift in expenditures across many states and systems of prison and community corrections despite variations in population change—a consequence, perhaps, of shrinking state budgets.”
  • The Hidden Costs of Criminal Justice Debt Brennan Center for Justice, October, 2010“Although 'debtors' prison' is illegal in all states, reincarcerating individuals for failure to pay debt is, in fact, common in some -- and in all states new paths back to prison are emerging for those who owe criminal justice debt.”
  • In For a Penny The Rise of America's New Debtors' Prisons American Civil Liberties Union, October, 2010“Incarcerating indigent defendants unable to pay their legal financial obligations often ends up costing much more than states and counties can ever hope to recover.”
  • Compounded Disadvantage Race, Incarceration, and Wage Growth National Poverty Center, October, 2008“Multilevel growth curve models show that black inmates earn considerably less than white inmates, even after considering human capital variables and prior work histories. Furthermore, racial divergence in wages among inmates increases following release...”
  • Profiting from the Poor A Report on Predatory Probation Companies in Georgia Southern Center for Human Rights, July, 2008“The privatization of misdemeanor probation has placed unprecedented law enforcement authority in the hands of for-profit companies that act essentially as collection agencies.”
  • Repaying Debts Justice Center, October, 2007“Financial pressures and paycheck garnishment resulting from unpaid debt can increase participation in the underground economy and discourage legitimate employment.”
  • Resources of the Prosecution and Indigent Defense Functions in Tennessee The Spangenberg Group (commissioned by the Tennessee Justice Project), June, 2007“[I]ndigent prosecution funding is between two and two-and-a-half times greater than indigent defense funding.”
  • An Analysis of the Performance of Federal Indigent Defense Counsel National Bureau of Economic Research, June, 2007“The federal indigent defense system relies on both salaried government workers... and hourly-wage earning court-appointed private [CJA] attorneys.... Defendants with CJA ... attorneys are... more likely to be found guilty and... receive longer sentences.”
  • Abandoned & Abused: Orleans Parish Prison in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina ACLU National Prison Project, August, 2006
  • Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, May, 2006“In their own words, a harrowing tale of escape, mismanagement and neglect unfolds, illustrating deep problems in New Orleans' system of juvenile justice and how we treat children in New Orleans.”
  • A Report on Pre- and Post-Katrina Indigent Defense in New Orleans Southern Center for Human Rights, April, 2006“More than six months after Katrina, a majority of [indigent defendants] remain behind bars, where they have languished on average for over a year without any communication with a defense attorney.”
  • Human Rights in the Heartland: An assessment of social, economic, civil, and political rights in the Midwest Heartland Alliance, December, 2005“Historically, the U.S. has been a beacon of hope for those seeking safety and opportunity, but our nation falls short of its potential in assuring a full complement of human rights - civil, political, social, economic, and cultural.”
  • Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration Becky Pettit and Bruce Western, May, 2004
  • Assembly Line Justice: Mississippi's Indigent Defense Crisis NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, February, 2003
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer...: A report on Georgia's failed indigent defense system Southern Center for Human Rights, February, 2003
  • Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits to Women Convicted of Drug Offenses Sentencing Project, February, 2002
  • Incarceration, Reentry and Social Capital: Social Networks in the Balance Dina Rose and Todd Clear, January, 2002
  • State-Funded Indigent Defense Services, 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics, September, 2001
  • Muting Gideon's Trumpet: The Crisis in Indigent Criminal Defense in Texas Committee on Legal Services to the Poor on Criminal Matters, February, 2001
  • Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2000“Two of three felony defendants represented by publicly-financed counsel”
  • Promises to Keep: Achieving Fairness and Equal Justice for the Poor in Criminal Cases Southern Center for Human Rights, November, 2000
  • Indigent Defense Services in Large Counties, 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2000
  • Selling Justice Short: Juvenile Indigent Defense in Texas Texas Appleseed, October, 2000
  • Neither Equal Nor Just: The Rationing and Denial of Legal Services to the Poor When Life and Liberty Are at Stake Stephen B. Bright, 1999
  • Profile of anti-drug law enforcement in urban poverty areas in Massachusetts William N. Brownsberger, November, 1997
  • Counsel for the Poor: The Death Sentence Not for the Worst Crime but for the Worst Lawyer Stephen B. Bright, May, 1994

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