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

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.

A Pandemic of the Poor

As we approach 1 million COVID-19 deaths, Americans in poorer counties have died at double the rate of wealthier counties.

Clarence Thomas’ Conflicts Put Our Whole Constitutional System at Risk

Federal law requires Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from cases in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Should one millionaire senator really be able to send millions of children back into poverty?

The human cost of Manchin’s threat to kill the Build Back Better Act.

Three Reasons to Be Hopeful About 2022

The year to come could still see big changes for the better. Here’s how.

Democrats Need to Stop Scaling Back Build Back Better, and Pass the Bill Right Now

The Democrats’ main vulnerability right now is that voters simply have no idea they’re trying to do popular things.

To Curb Inflation, Pass Biden Plan

The bill helps Americans get good jobs and afford food, housing, health care and child care — a strong response to inflation.

Democrats Need to Protect Democracy — And Pass Their Own Agenda

The 2022 elections are still a year away, but all signs point to trouble for Democrats.

Historic Relief for American Families Is on Its Way to Your Bank Account

If you’re a parent, odds are you’ll be getting a direct deposit very soon.

The Man for the Moment Who Must Do More

Biden deserves praise for going big and bold on the economy. Let’s push him to go bigger and bolder.

Biden Needs to Keep His Promises on Immigration

The new administration has made some welcome changes, but Biden isn’t living up to all his promises — especially on detention.

Democrats’ COVID Relief Plan Could Cut Child Poverty by 4 Million

An expanded child tax credit could create the ‘bootstraps’ to lift the next generation.

How We’re Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

King was right: We need a multiracial movement to repair our country’s deep divides. Here’s where public scholarship plays a role.

Biden Should Build on Bipartisan Support for Hiking the Minimum Wage and Taxing the Rich

Despite our sharp divisions, a majority of Americans are united behind many policies to combat poverty and reduce inequality.