The Criminalization of Poverty

By Jeff Yungman

Much has been written about the growing income inequality in the United States. However, an issue that receives much less attention is how income inequality has resulted in justice inequality. A recent report entitled “The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty” by Karen Dolan of the Institute for Policy Studies noted, “Poor people, especially people of color, face a greater risk of being fined, arrested, and even incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can result in jail time” (tinyurl.com/y8jrr4fn). In other words, poverty is often treated as a criminal offense.

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