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

Pope, Post-partisanship, and Prisons

Can the pope’s emphasis on criminal justice reform begin to shift the ideological landscape in Washington?

A Summer Storm is Brewing

The need for our safety net is palpable, but the GOP’s hurricane budget is shredding it.

Caitlyn Jenner Isn’t ‘Posing’ as a Woman—She Is a Woman

What makes us feel like and identify as a certain gender or genders is in our brain, not between our legs.

How a Broken Tail Light Can Be a Death Sentence in America

We’ve created a perfect storm of poverty, fear, social control and racially charged policing.

Guilty of Being Poor

When a community issues arrest warrants for more offenses than it has residents, something’s deeply wrong.

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.