Criminalization of Race and Poverty

Thanks to supporters like you, the Institute for Policy Studies has been strengthening social movements with independent research, visionary thinking, and links to scholars, activists, organizers, and officeholders since 1963.

Criminalization of poverty has increased significantly in the U.S. in recent years. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, truancy or minor misbehavior in school, expressing one’s gender, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can all result in jail time.

The criminalization of poor people happens at the intersectional oppressions of race, class, ability, and gender identity. The criminalization of children is especially inhumane and disproportionality affects low-income Latinx and Black youth, 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.

The prevailing narrative that poverty is due to a personal failing is false. Poverty is a policy choice in the U.S. Adverse effects of poverty put children at life-long risk.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We need robust public investments in children and families.

By working closely with impacted people, we help them to tell their stories, conduct research and report on the various components of these injustices, and support movements on the ground and advocacy coalitions. The Criminalization of Poverty project aims to encourage and influence policy moving us from intersectional injustice into intersectional justice.

Latest Work

80+ Organizations Urge Biden to Reject Inhumane Cuts to Critical Programs

The ProsperUS coalition issued a letter, as covered in HuffPost, calling on the White House to protect funding for critical domestic programs as shutdown looms

The Radicalization of Climate Activism

What we need is a bold “just transition” program that ends fossil fuels as soon as possible.

Poverty Made an Alarming Jump. Congress Should Have Stopped It.

It’s time for policymakers to listen to American workers and families instead of billionaires and corporate bosses.

Affirmative Action Has Ended, but the Need for Diversity Hasn’t

Protecting diversity on campus creates better paths to opportunity for students of every race. The question now is to figure out how.

Criminalization of Race and Poverty Program at the Institute for Policy Studies Responds to the Debt Ceiling Deal

“It makes it harder for poor and low-income families to access food benefits they deserve, while making it easier for wealthy people to cheat on their taxes.”

Raise the Debt Ceiling, and Invest in America

The debt ceiling is an arcane artifice without a real connection to the economy. But how well we invest in our families and workers directly relates to it.

The Human Cost of McCarthy’s Debt Ceiling Demands Would Be Catastrophic

McCarthy and his caucus are holding American families and the global economy hostage to his demands to slash vital social programs.

When ‘Decorum’ Means ‘Mob Rule,’ It’s Time to Break It.

In Tennessee and Montana, Republicans silenced the voices of three young lawmakers because they dared to challenge the undemocratic status quo.

‘I Don’t Mind the Work’: An IPS Tribute to Harry Belafonte

IPS experts remember their time with the legendary activist, entertainer, and IPS board member.

Criminalization of Poverty Program at IPS’s Statement on President Biden’s Budget

“As an expression of values, its proposals to invest in families and workers, protect Social Security, and strengthen Medicare reflect the values of most of us.”

President Biden: Don’t Negotiate With Fiscal Terrorists

If Biden gives in, he’ll be as much to blame for a possible recession and spiking economic hardship as McCarthy and his party of extremists will be.

An absurd issue demands an absurd solution: Let’s mint a bazillion-dollar coin to bring the curtain down forever on the Republicans’ farcical debt-ceiling theater

Congressional Republicans don’t want fiscal responsibility. They want to destroy the government’s ability to improve the lives of American citizens.

Four options for Democrats to avert another debt ceiling crisis

The debt ceiling has one use: helping extremists take our seniors, veterans, and kids hostage to political demands. Congress should abolish it now.

Americans of every race deserve a fair shot. Affirmative action provides one.

Far too many are denied this chance simply because of the color of their skin.

These midterm elections have enormous stakes for poor and low-income Americans

Our country faces a material and moral crisis – and Republicans are offering only resentment and false solutions.

The data is in: Poverty is a political choice

Common sense federal investments caused poverty to plunge during the pandemic shock. If we fail to renew them, we’re choosing poverty.

Remembering Barbara Ehrenreich

The acclaimed author and activist had a 40-year history with the Institute for Policy Studies, first as a staff member and later as a project leader and board member.

Schools Won’t Be Safe Until Lawmakers Respect Students

Lawmakers are filling schools with police and viciously targeting students and teachers. How are kids supposed to learn?

Biden’s Inflation Bill Is (Mostly) Good News for People and the Planet

But it needs to be a first step, not the last.

‘Hardening’ School Security Is the Wrong Answer

If we are serious about keeping children safe, lawmakers should heed the dozens of school districts across the country that have begun decreasing their reliance on police in schools.