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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Even Alongside Impeachment, AOC's Plan to Eradicate Poverty Should Be Headline News

While Trump's potential impeachment dominates news feeds, let's not lose sight of the deep policy changes needed to make this country work for all of us.
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Census Fails to Count 100 Million People as Living in Poverty

Census data asserts US poverty has fallen to 11.8 percent, or 38.1 million Americans. Yet, 40 percent of all Americans can't afford a $400 emergency.
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About 100 Million Americans Are Effectively Hidden by Official Poverty Statistics

Millions of us are living in poverty — we need investments to raise the standard of living.
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We're the Wealthiest Country — Our Kids Shouldn't Go to School Hungry

The Trump administration recently proposed cuts to SNAP. Now they want to roll back national nutrition standards for school lunches.
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What Sanctions Mean for My Iranian-American Family

As innocent people suffer the repercussions of sanctions, break-ins are on the rise — including at my grandparents’ house.

Transgender People’s Rights Are in Peril

The majority-conservative Supreme Court is poised to review the application of Title VII to trans people in the workplace.
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All I want for Mother's Day Is Equality for My Child

My child has fought her whole life for her right to exist. This administration wants to take that away.
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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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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.