Criminalization of Race and Poverty

Criminalization of poverty has increased significantly in the U.S. since the Great Recession of 2009. Poor and low-income people, especially people of color, face a far greater risk of being targeted, profiled, fined, arrested, harassed, violated and incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping on a park can all result in jail time.

The criminalization of poor people happens at the intersectional oppressions of race, class, gender and gender identity. The criminalization of children is especially inhumane and disproportionality affects low-income Latinx and Black children, LGBTQI children and children with disabilities. The school-to-prison pipeline is a significant factor in removing opportunities for self-fulfillment, education and employment, often creating and perpetuating poverty.

By conducting research and reports on the various components of these injustices, and supporting movements on the ground with resources and capacity, the Criminalization of Poverty project aims to encourage and influence policy that will move us from intersectional injustice into intersectional justice.

Latest Work

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Men Like Kavanaugh Always Enjoy the Presumption of Innocence; Others Aren’t so Lucky

White males with high economic status are almost always presumed innocent, often at the expense of minorities and white women.
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Trump Launches Aggressive Poverty Disinformation Campaign

The middle class is starting to look poor, but the president’s Council of Economic Advisers now argues that not even the poor are poor—all the better to cut programs that serve both groups.
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'Stand Your Ground' Laws Encourage Dangerous Vigilantism

Some Americans call the cops on black people for frivolous reasons. Others appoint themselves judge, jury, and — sometimes — executioner.
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Punitive, Zero Tolerance Policies Are Endangering Our Students

Restorative justice is a promising alternative to arming teachers and putting cops in schools. And we can prove it.

Help Spread the Word: #RealSchoolSafety

Help spread the word about our new report, Students Under Siege
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Schools Need Resources, Not 'School Resource Officers'

Turning schools into prisons means sending kids to real-life prisons. There are better ways to keep students safe.
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Trump’s War On the Poor Has Just Begun

Anti-poverty programs are quickly becoming less accessible as the Trump administration claims the "War on Poverty" is "largely over and a success."
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Pardons Aren’t Policy

The president's offer to pardon people unjustly behind bars is a welcome one. But he could do so, so much more.
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These 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills Send the Wrong Message on Race and Violence

This is just the latest congressional favor for the Fraternal Order of the Police.
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Incarceration and Deportation Rip Mothers From Their Families

We need to address the criminalization of race and poverty. To do so, we need to correct our swaying moral compass.
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This is the Wrong Time to Cut Back on Public Housing

More than half a million Americans are homeless — the size of a large city.
Poor People's Campaign

Poor People's Campaign Report

An interview with Karen Dolan.
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Police Killed More People Last Year Than Mass Shooters

The fight to curb gun violence must address the violence inflicted by law enforcement.
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Getting Real About School Safety

Armed adults don't make kids safer. They put them at greater risk.
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Parkland Students Join Their Generation Z Peers to Change the Country

"Our voices are getting louder. Our political power is expanding."
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To End Mass Incarceration, We Must Rethink How We Respond to Violence

Using restorative justice techniques as an alternative to prison has a surprising group of supporters: victims of violence.
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No Country for People with Disabilities

Trump wants to slash $610 billion from Medicaid — on top of the $800 billion the House wants to cut in repealing Obamacare. That will be devastating for people with disabilities.
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The Gratifying Challenges of Mothering a Trans Child

Mothering a transgender child several years before there was any public understanding of what makes a baby transgender is a mountain most mothers hope they don't have to climb. But mothers don't have the luxury of staying confused.
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The Moms Fighting for Their Kids Behind Bars

For the mothers of the 54,000 children incarcerated in this country — the most of any in the world — Mother's Day rings in an acute pain.
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The Worst Thing About Sessions? Everything We Already Knew.

What could Sessions have talked to the Russian ambassador about that could compare to his atrocious record on civil rights?

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Reports

Report: Students Under Siege

How the school-to-prison pipeline, poverty, and racism endanger our school children

Report: Mothers at the Gate

A movement of family members is developing around the country that aims to challenge both the conditions in which their loved ones are held and the fact of mass incarceration itself.
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The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

This report provides a new understanding of the growing ways in which those in poverty are disproportionately targeted, marginalized, and prosecuted.

In the News

Bail reform in Ohio

Cleveland | August 31, 2018

Mother Of A Transgender Child Speaks Out

Rising Up with Sonali | February 28, 2017

Think Tanks to Supreme Court

Hamilton College | October 20, 2016

Government Fees That Perpetuate Poverty

Acton Institute | July 8, 2016