Skip navigation

The Poor Get Prison - The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty, Dolan and Carr, 2015

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
The Alarming Spread of the
Criminalization of Poverty

by Karen Dolan with Jodi L. Carr

Lead Author:
Karen Dolan is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs the Criminalization of Poverty Project. Karen also
assists the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Jodi L.Carr is a research associate at the Institute for Policy Studies. Currently, she is a doctoral student at George
Mason University majoring in Education Policy
Foreword by:
Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Best-selling Author of Nickel and Dimed, Founder and Co-Editor of the Economic
Hardship Reporting Project. (
Contributing Writers:
Diana Torres is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies
Mira Ahmad is a junior at Princeton University majoring in History with a minor in Urban Studies. She also interned with
the Institute for Policy Studies.
Research Assistance:
Joshua M. Thomas-Serrano, Intern, Institute for Policy Studies
Lia Salaverry, Intern at the Institute for Policy Studies
Cover, Design, and Layout:
Leslie Garvey, Newman Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies
Photography Credit:
Introduction: Cylonphoto /
Section 4: TFoxFoto /
Section 5: Winston Vargas / Flickr
Acknowledgements: Special Thanks to Jeffrey Selbin, Clinical Professor of Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law; Kate
Weisburd, Managing Director & Clinical Instructor, East Bay Community Law Center, U.C. Berkeley Law School; Daryl
Atkinson, Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice; Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the
National Law Center for Poverty and Homelessness; The Advancement Project; Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy
Studies; Marjorie Wood, Institute for Policy Studies; Erica Simpson, Intern, Institute for Policy Studies.
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

Media Contact

This study was made possible by the generous support of The Elfenworks Foundation, “In Harmony With Hope,”
who advises us, “never underestimate your ripple.”
elfenworks (

Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich......................................................................................................................5

Introduction: Being Poor in a Hostile Nation..................................................................................................6

Section 1: The Rise of Debtors' Prisons in 21st Century America................................................................9

Section 2: Barriers to Reentry for Returning Citizens....................................................................................12

Section 3: Probation Profiteering.................................................................................................................... 16

Section 4: School-to-Prison Pipeline..............................................................................................................20

Section 5: The Criminalization of Homelessness.......................................................................................... 23

Section 6: Confiscating Poor People's Property through Civil Asset Forfeiture...................................... 27


Endnotes.................................................................................................................................................. 32

Page 4


By Barbara Ehrenreich
In many ways, the American dialogue about poverty remains the same as it was in the early 1960s,
when poverty was first “discovered” as a national problem. Liberals want the government to do more for the
poor — through expanded social programs or raising the minimum wage - while conservatives emphasize
self-reliance over government assistance. Both sides seem to agree that there is an intergenerational “cycle of
poverty,” leading children born in poverty into lifetimes of economic difficulty, and that ways must be found to
interrupt this cycle.
But many things have changed in the last 50 years, some of them so recently as to have gone largely
unnoticed by pundits and policy makers. The poor, and especially poor people of color, have long been overrepresented in the prison population. This used to be attributed to the fact that the poor are more likely to be
tempted by criminal activities such as theft and drug dealing. Just in the last ten years, however, it has become
apparent that being poor is in itself a crime in many cities and counties, and that it is a crime punished by
further impoverishment. As Karen Dolan explains in this hard-hitting report, a simple traffic violation – such as
a broken tail-light – can bring down a cascade of fees and fines, which mount quickly if not paid on time and
can lead to incarceration.
The mid-00s were a turning point in the criminal justice system’s treatment of misdemeanors. Local
governments increased the fees, fines and court costs they levied for minor transgressions, and at the same
time, increased the number of possible misdemeanors to include truancy (for which parents can be punished),
driving with an expired license (as is the case in Washington, DC), putting one’s feet up on a subway seat (in
New York City), and a variety of other minor infractions. The latter two are grounds for immediate arrest,
leading to the imposition of fines and court costs. If the defendant cannot pay, he or she may be jailed and,
in the ugliest twist of all – later charged for the cost of room and board, then re-jailed for failing to pay that. If
the defendant is put on probation, he or she must pay for the probation officer and anything else required for
monitoring, like an ankle bracelet.
Ferguson, Missouri helped bring attention to the extent of “offender-funded” criminal justice services.
The city was relying on fees, fines, and court costs for 20 percent of its budget, effectively turning it into an
occupied territory, with a 95 percent white police force supporting itself by forcibly preying on a nearly 70
percent black population.
Who benefits from this “criminalization of poverty”? In the short-term, municipalities and counties
may appear to benefit, as well as the private companies that increasingly provide probation services and
operate detention facilities and prisons. In addition, the increasing barriers, such as drug testing and criminal
record searches, to social benefits like public housing, SNAP, and TANF may also temporarily help relieve
cash-strapped local governments. But the overall effect is to perpetuate poverty and even expand the poverty
population, to no possible good effect. Poor and indigent people cannot afford to pay for the means to coerce
and incarcerate them, and nothing is gained by repeatedly jailing them. The criminalization of poverty – and
increasing impoverishment of people judged to be criminals — amounts to a system of organized sadism.
This is the real “cycle of poverty:” Poverty leads easily to criminal charges from unpaid debts, unrenewed
licenses and the like. Criminal charges in turn lead to ever-mounting debt and, despite laws prohibiting debtors’
prisons, to incarceration. There is no mystery about where government needs to intervene — first, by stopping
the persecution of people who are already struggling to get by, and second, by mitigating that struggle.
Page 5


Being Poor in a Hostile Nation
Poor people, especially people of color, face a far 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 all result in jail time. In this report, we
seek to understand the multi-faceted, growing phenomenon of the “criminalization of poverty.”
In many ways, this phenomenon is not new. The introduction of public assistance programs gave
rise to prejudices against beneficiaries and to systemic efforts to obstruct access to the assistance.
As University of California-Irvine professor Kaaryn Gustafson has noted, the intersections of race,
income and gender bias were at play in the 1960s and 1970s as black, single mothers were targeted as
criminal, lazy, promiscuous welfare cheats.1 The 1980s saw this demographic become the emblem of
all that is wrong with government assistance for the poor — the infamous Welfare Queen. Black, single
mothers were fictionalized as criminally defrauding the taxpayer, taking in public assistance while driving
Cadillacs, eating bon-bons, and presumably getting rich off of drug-dealing boyfriends. Thus the 1990s
brought aggressive state attacks on welfare recipients as they were increasingly investigated for fraud
and other suspected criminal activities. The welfare system became a system of criminalization and
punishment, rather than a program to assist needy families.
So-called welfare reform, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,
ended federal cash aid programs and replaced them with time-limited, restrictive, state block-grants.
New punishable behaviors were mandated and policed, all but erasing the already tenuous line between
the welfare and criminal justice systems.
Today, when applying for welfare in the United States, many applicants are photographed, fingerPage 6

printed, drug-tested, interrogated, and asked to prove paternity of children.2 Similarly, eligibility for
public housing is restricted or denied if the applicant has a criminal record, including misdemeanors
or a prior lease violation. Further, local Public Housing Authorities can be even more restrictive and
evict occupants if a member of their family or another person residing in — or in some cases visiting —
commits a crime, such as a misdemeanor drug offense.3
Poverty, in other words, is too often treated as a criminal offense.
As with other forms of criminalization, black women, men, and youth are disproportionally targeted
and affected by creating obstacles to safety net assistance programs. Case studies of three cities
in California (Lancaster, Antioch, and Palmdale) illustrate the profiling of black women in Section 8
housing. For example, in Antioch, African-Americans in 2008 were four times as likely as white Section 8
occupants to be targeted and searched by law enforcement as a result of noncriminal complaints.4
Twelve states now mandate drug testing for receipts of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF or “welfare”). According to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), at least 30 states
have proposed legislation mandating drug testing for eligibility to receive welfare assistance. Some even
extend this presumption of criminality into eligibility to receive other forms of economic assistance, such
as food assistance and unemployment benefits.5
Additionally, welfare reform has produced more inroads for the criminalization of low-income and poor
people through data compiled in these investigations. For example, food stamp records obtained by law
enforcement officers are used to find and arrest people with outstanding arrest warrants.6
Not only are these incursions into one’s civil liberties being challenged as unconstitutional, they serve to
further criminalize the status of being poor in the United States. On a practical level, the CLASP report
finds these methods are costly, unnecessary, and ineffective.7
This form of criminalizing poverty — racial profiling and targeting of poor black and Latina single
mothers trying to access public assistance — is a relatively familiar reality. Less well-known are the new
and growing trends which increase this criminalization of being poor that affect or will affect hundreds
of millions of Americans. These troubling trends are eliminating their chances to get out of poverty and
access resources that make a safe and decent life possible.
In this report we will summarize these realities, filling out the true breadth and depth of this national
crisis. The key elements we examine are:
•	 the targeting of poor people with fines and fees for misdemeanors and the resurgence of
debtors’ prisons (the imprisonment of people unable to pay debts resulting from the increase in
fines and fees);
•	 mass incarceration of poor ethnic minorities for non-violent offenses and the barriers to
employment and re-entry into society once they have served their sentences;
•	 excessive punishment of poor children that creates a “school-to-prison pipeline”;

Page 7

•	 increase in arrests of homeless people and people feeding the homeless and criminalizing lifesustaining activities such as sleeping in public when no shelter is available; and
•	 confiscating what little resources and property poor people might have through “civil asset
If you are poor in America, you are criminalized at every turn. As Barbara Ehrenreich has put it, “When
you leave the relative safety of the middle class, you might as well have given up your citizenship and
taken residence in a hostile nation.”8

Page 8


The Rise of Debtors' Prisons in 21st Century America
Poor people are facing more fines and fees for misdemeanors like traffic violations. When they are unable to
pay these fines, they are suffering harsher outcomes. They often wind up in jail or prison, where they accrue
additional debt due to charges for costs related to public defender services, room and board during lockup,
probation and parole supervision, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and DNA samples.9
How the American Debtors’ Prison Made a Comeback
In 1833, the United States ended the longstanding tradition of
debtors’ prison. Prior to that time, citizens were placed in prison
if they were unable to pay a debt. Over 100 years later, the U.S.
courts dealt with this question again in Bearden v. Georgia (1983),
a Supreme Court decision which held that it is unconstitutional to
imprison those that cannot afford to pay their debt or restitution in
criminal cases.11

War veteran Stephen Papa returned
from Iraq poor and homeless. He
was able to secure employment, but
continued to face further hardship
after one night of drunkenness that
led to a conviction for property
destruction and resisting arrest. He
faced fines and court fees of $2,600,
of which he was ordered to pay the
first $50 at the time of his sentencing.
Because Papa fell $25 short, he went
to jail for 22 days and lost his job.
Rather than allowing him to continue
working in order to pay the fine, the
judge sent him to jail for being poor. 10

The case of Bearden v. Georgia involved the story of an illiterate
young man, Danny Bearden. In 1980, he was sentenced to three
years of probation in connection to a burglary charge. He was
ordered to pay $750 in fines and restitution, $200 of which was
due immediately. Possessing only a high school education, Danny
had recently lost his job and was having trouble finding a new one.
He borrowed $200 from his parents but was arrested a few months later for owing the court $550. He
languished in jail for two years before the Supreme Court’s decision earned him his freedom.12 Bearden
Page 9

challenged the state of Georgia and won. The decision in Bearden v. Georgia ruled that debtors can be
incarcerated only if the act of not paying their debt or restitution was “willful.”13
Despite this ruling, poor people have continued to be jailed for not paying their debts — and the trend
is increasing. Sometimes, if a person is not able to afford the full amount of the fine or debt, they are
permitted to make monthly installments. But on top of this, they often also face additional fees linked
to privatized probation services.14 When they are unable to pay, they are often placed in jail or prison
with additional fines levied. It is an endless and vicious cycle targeting an already victimized sector of
the population. In addition, it costs the taxpayer more money to keep people in jail or prison than if they
were permitted to remain employed and pay their fine or debt overtime.15
Increase in Criminal Fees
Figure 1.

National Public Radio (NPR), with assistance from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice
and the National Center for State Courts, conducted a year-long, state-by-state investigation into
some of the many fines, fees, and court-related costs for which poor people have been charged and
jailed. They found that since 2010, 48 states have increased criminal and civil court fees as governments
passed on many costs of running the criminal just system onto defendants.
A recent United States Department of Justice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department
highlights Ferguson as a case in point. The Justice Department’s March 4, 2015 report states of
The City budgets for sizeable increases in municipal fines and fees each year, exhorts police and
court staff to deliver those revenue increases, and closely monitors whether those increases are
achieved. City officials routinely urge Chief Jackson to generate more revenue
through enforcement.

Page 10

Ferguson has allowed its focus on revenue generation to fundamentally compromise the role of
Ferguson’s municipal court. The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or
a check on unlawful police conduct. Instead, the court primarily uses its judicial authority as the
means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests. This has
led to court practices that violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process and equal protection
requirements. The court’s practices also impose unnecessary harm, overwhelmingly on AfricanAmerican individuals, and run counter to public safety.
Most strikingly, the court issues municipal arrest warrants not on the basis of public safety needs,
but rather as a routine response to missed court appearances and required fine payments. In 2013
alone, the court issued over 9,000 warrants on cases stemming in large part from minor violations
such as parking infractions, traffic tickets, or housing code violations. Jail time would be considered
far too harsh a penalty for the great majority of these code violations, yet Ferguson’s municipal court
routinely issues warrants for people to be arrested and incarcerated for failing to timely pay related
fines and fees.” 16

In Ferguson and other cities nationwide, poor and low-income people are facing harsher outcomes
linked to their inability to pay fines and debts. When they are unable to pay, they go to jail or prison
and accrue additional debt linked to payment for a public defender, room and board during lockup,
probation and parole supervision, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and DNA samples.17 NPR noted
that some of these previously free government services are constitutionally required, like the right to a
public defender. In addition, technology, such as electronic monitors, aimed at helping defendants avoid
jail time, is available only to those who can afford to pay for it.
The NPR investigation built on a 2010 Brennan Center report on the 15 states with the largest prison
populations, which found that each of them had a practice of arresting people because they were unable
to pay fines, fees, debts or because they did not attend hearings about these debts.18
Policy Recommendations
•	 The 1983 Bearden v. Georgia Supreme Court ruling protecting defendants from going to jail
because they are too poor to pay their fines must be enforced. Before non-payment or underpayment of a court fine or fee is treated as a civil contempt of court charge, it must first be
determined by common standards whether or not the person has the ability to pay.
•	 Imprisonment should not be offered as a way of paying down court-imposed debt. If the debt
cannot be paid, the fee should not be levied.
•	 States should not be allowed to arrest citizens for criminal justice debt before a debt hearing can
take place to determine one’s ability to pay.19

Page 11


Barriers to Reentry for Returning Citizens
Barriers to employment and public services are increasingly affecting a larger sector of the U.S. population
due to increasing numbers of arrests and convictions. Upon release, formerly convicted or arrested
people face daunting obstacles to reentry into society. Barriers exist that make employment, access to
mental health services, housing, childcare, and even access to food assistance prohibitive. Many formerly
incarcerated people are not allowed to vote or to serve on a jury.
A minor infraction, such as disorderly conduct, may lead to an
arrest but not a conviction. This was the case for Precious Daniels,
a Detroit healthcare worker who was arrested for disorderly
conduct during a political protest. A college graduate, Daniels was
released on $50 bail and the misdemeanor charge was eventually
dropped. But her record was not cleared, creating problems when
she applied for a new job.21
Individuals who are arrested and are not convicted sometimes
find out only after a background check that they must go through
a series of steps to clear their arrest record, a process that is
often costly and time consuming, especially for those in need of
immediate employment.
Barriers to employment are increasingly affecting a larger sector
of the U.S. population due to increasing numbers of arrests and
convictions. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Page 12

“I have worked hard to turn my life
around. I have remained clean for
nearly eight years, I am succeeding
in college, and I continue to share my
story in schools, treatment facilities
and correctional institutions, yet I
have nothing to show for it. .... I have
had numerous interviews and sent
out more than 200 resumes for jobs
which I am more than qualified. I have
had denial after denial because of my
—Excerpt from a letter to the
Department of Justice by “Jay,” a
30-year-old man who, at age 21, was
sentenced to 38 months in prison
after losing control of his car after
a night of drinking, killing his close

(FBI), law enforcement authorities have made an estimated quarter of a billion arrests over the last 20
years.22 Approximately 77.7 million citizens are in the FBI’s master criminal database. Simply put, about
1 out of 3 adult citizens can be located in the database, largely for nonviolent offenses. The combined
state and federal prison population reached 1,574,741 in 2013, up 7 percent since 2003.23
For those who may have committed more serious criminal acts such as robbery or possession of an
illegal substance, the consequences can lead to a lifetime of struggle. In many states, the criminal justice
system can bar people who have committed these criminal acts from certain positions of employment.
For example, in many states, the criminal justice system can bar people from selling houses or cars. In
addition, people who have been arrested or convicted of a crime can be denied positions that require
a certification or license, such as in the fields of cosmetology, accounting, healthcare, and plumbing. In
most states, people with criminal histories cannot become barbers.24
Figure 2.

The intersectionality of race and class are
prominent in the criminal justice system. According
to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
in 2011, 1 in every 15 black men and 1 in every 36
Latino men are incarcerated, compared to only 1
in every 106 white men.25 According to the Center
for American Progress, one in three black men will
go to prison in their lifetime, black and Latino men
are four times as likely to be stopped for traffic
violations, and black men are twice as likely to
be arrested as white people when confronted by

An estimated 70 million U.S. adults have arrests
or convictions, creating significant barriers to
employment when background checks are required
during the application process. Indeed, according
to the National Employment Law Project, “The likelihood of a callback for an interview for an entry-level
position drops off by 50 percent for those applicants with an arrest or conviction history.”27
Source: “Facts about People in Prison,” by The
Sentencing Project. Retrieved from

More than 50 percent of employers say that they would feel very hesitant to hire an employee with a criminal
history. Analysis has reflected that men with arrest records, even without conviction, earn lower salaries
upon employment. Of the nearly 70 percent of employers who conduct background checks, barely half
give applicants a chance to explain their prior arrests.28 For Latino and black men, the prospects are even
worse. In “The Mark of a Criminal Record,” Devah Pager, a Sociology Professor at Harvard University,
found that employers are more likely to hire a white male returning citizen than a black or Latino male
with a clean record.
The High National Cost of Barriers to Employment
The Center for American Progress found that the employment rate dropped in 2008 because 1.7
Page 13

million workers were ineligible for employment due to criminal records.29 If the formerly incarcerated
population and people with criminal histories had access to employment, they could make substantial
economic contributions to their communities. The nation would see increased earnings that would result
in a higher tax base coupled with reduced recidivism linked to employment. It costs more than $80
billion annually to maintain the U.S. prison system, and unemployment for those with criminal records
reduces GDP by as much as $65 billion per year.30
Figure 3.
Beyond Unemployment: Barriers to
Immediate Needs
According to a report issued in 2012, 95
percent of the population in jail or prison
will be released back to the community.
For many of these ex-offenders or those
arrested or not convicted, reentry into
the community can be daunting.31 Upon
reentry into society, those released
from jail are faced with multiple needs,
including housing, employment, and
childcare. In addition, many are released
with physical and mental health issues
and about 75 percent have histories of
substance abuse. Those convicted of
crimes face a multitude of collateral
consequences in which they are barred
from housing and other public benefits.32
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reports that collateral consequences, or an extra set of
punishments, are placed on individuals with criminal convictions. According to a study funded by
NIJ and conducted by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Criminal Justice Section, the ABA
has documented over 38,000 collateral consequence statutes nationwide. These statutes place an
abundance of roadblocks on those convicted of criminal offenses, including barriers to housing,
employment, voting, and many public benefits. Interestingly, the ABA noted that of the 38,000 statutes,
80 percent can be used to deny employment.33 Individuals trying to reenter society after arrest or
incarceration typically need access to basic health, mental health, housing, and substance abuse and
food assistance. Due to criminal records, they find themselves ineligible for the safety net services they
need to survive.34
Almost 75 percent of returning citizens have histories of drug and alcohol abuse. The wait list for
substance abuse programs is usually prohibitively long and returning citizens do not get the substance
abuse assistance necessary for successful reentry. Access to income supports such as Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and nutrition supports such as Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP) for people with drug convictions are conditional upon completing
substance abuse programs.35
Page 14

Additionally, we have a crisis in our local jails. Annual admissions have doubled in the past 20 years to
almost 12 million people.36 Most alarming is the lesser-known fact that out of the 733,000 people held in
local jails at this time, three-fifths of them have not been convicted and many are there simply because
they are too poor to post even a small bail while they await processing of their cases.37
Finally, returning citizens often have little or no work experience, no more than a high school education,
insufficient social and family support, and are denied the right to vote. All of these factors make
reintegration into society far more challenging that it needs to be.
Policy Recommendations
Ban the Box and Fair Chance Policies:38 In 2004, a group of formerly incarcerated people in the Bay
Area, All of Us or None, began a campaign to dismantle structural discrimination in the job application
and hiring process. Dubbed the Ban the Box campaign, it seeks to end the practice of requiring jobseekers to check a box on application forms indicating prior arrests or convictions. Legal advocates
at The Southern Coalition for Social Justice and other activist and research organizations such as
Jobs with Justice39 and the National Employment Law Project40 have worked nationally to launch this
campaign and to institute related Fair Chance Policies, “best practices” models for any state, city, or
region under this banner. These best practices suggest ways in which public employers can eliminate
barriers to job applicants with criminal histories. It includes “banning the box” and provides appropriate
language use, model policies, and provisions for applicants to provide supporting evidence of treatment
and rehabilitation. It calls for these Fair Chance Policies to be expanded to private sector employers as
well. As of February 2015, 14 states and dozens of municipalities had passed some version of “ban the
box” legislation, and some corporations, including Target and Home Depot, have now stopped asking
about criminal records in the initial stages of the job application process.41
•	 The Second Chance Reauthorization Act:42 This legislation would reauthorize and improve the
Second Chance Act of 2008. The bill outlines some paths for removing barriers to reentry. It
calls for programs promoting family-based substance abuse treatment, community supports for
reintegration, and career training. It relies on best practices proven effective for more successful
reentry and less recidivism.
•	 Expand “Forgive or Forget:” There are two procedural protections which people with
convictions may be afforded, known as Forgive or Forget. First, a criminal record may be
expunged or sealed. Second, a record can be forgiven with a Certificate of Release which can
relieve some of the collateral consequences of convictions. The eligibility requirements for
these protections should be expanded to serve more people and to apply to more types of
•	 Subsidize Legal Services: There is a strong need for additional legal aid to help people with
criminal records overcome barriers to employment and obtain necessary services. According to
Attorney Daryl Atkinson at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice,44 access to these services
could be mandated or provisions could be made for federal and state grants to provide probono legal assistance.
Page 15


Probation Profiteering
Private companies are profiting off the expanded number of people in the criminal justice system by
charging fees for supervision and other costs related to probation. If the people under probation cannot pay,
they often face jail time.45
The Good Intentions Behind Probation

After shoplifting a can of beer in 2012, Tom
Barrett was fined $200 and sentenced to
The state of Georgia exemplifies the growing problem
12 months probation. But the price tag
of the effects of privatizing probation. An article in the
for probation services was so high, Barrett
February 2015 edition of The Atlantic describes the
couldn’t pay and wound up in jail. These
practices in Georgia which have changed the justice system costs included: $12 per day for an alcohol
in that state into another form of debtor’s prison. The
monitoring device, a $50 set-up fee, and
incentivized system makes money by charging as many
a $39 monthly fee to a private probation
people as possible to keep them out of jail. Public officials in company. In addition, Barrett did not have a
Georgia don’t protect people too poor to pay the fines and public defender because he could not afford
a $50 fee. After two months, his Alcoholics
fees from being imprisoned. In 2012, the Georgia private
probation giant, Sentinel, is estimated to have relied on the Anonymous sponsor offered to help him
money obtained through this predatory fine and fee practice start paying for his probation services and
he was released. But as the probation costs
for at least 40 percent of its revenue.47 This practice is not
mounted, Barrett had trouble paying his bills
confined to Georgia, but Georgia is instructional for how
and he was called back to court. This time an
many poor people can be swept into this model.48
attorney challenged the fees and he was able
to avoid jail time. But the debts continued to
When adults commit misdemeanors or minor offenses,
make it difficult for Barrett to deal with his
courts sentence adults to live in the community under
addiction problem and get back on his feet.46

Page 16

supervision49 for a fixed period of time referred to as probation. Under active supervision, probationers
report regularly to a probation officer either in person or by mail or phone to ensure they are meeting
the court’s predetermined benchmarks for good behavior while continuing to live in the community.
Some probationers meet with probation officers solely because they have to pay fines and court
ordered fees. If probationers fail to pay these fees or do not follow the court’s rules of conduct, they can
face jail time.
The number of probationers has ballooned over the past decades: State courts sentenced 816,525
adults to probation in 1977, 3,826,209 in 2000, and more than 4 million in 2010.50 As the number of
probationers increased, states started using a lower percentage of their budgets to fund probation
programs. State funding for probation services has decreased as well, so state courts have increasingly
turned to private corporations to provide probation services.51
Figure 4.

Source: “Facts about People in Prison,” by The Sentencing Project. Retrieved from

Shifting Costs of Probation
According to Human Rights Watch, state-run probation services are no longer providing the needed
supervision over misdemeanor cases, leaving it up to local officials to establish ways to supervise
their probationers.52 These local officials are increasingly turning the task over to private probation
companies. In fact, local jurisdictions see this shift as a win-win for both parties.
There is no cost to the taxpayer, since the private probation companies do not charge the local
jurisdictions any fees. The cost of the service is passed onto the probationer in the form of monthly
supervisory fees. When the probationer cannot afford the cost to be supervised, he or she can face
Page 17

jail time. It is a vicious cycle. Once a person is released from jail, he is placed on probation, accruing
additional supervisory fees imposed by the private probation companies. In fact, probationers usually
end up paying more in additional fees than the actual debt they owe for the crime committed.53
What exacerbates this cycle is that the poor people who are most affected by the probation system
are not aware of their rights: namely, that it is unconstitutional to be sent to jail for the inability to pay a
fee or debt. Without a lawyer present because of the misdemeanor charge, these defendants are not
offered an explanation of their options and are not aware of the consequences of choosing probation
over jail time.54 Many states fail in oversight of allowing probationers to be sent back to jail simply for
being unable to keep up the costs associated with their probation.55
Further, the Human Rights Watch report discussed how the fee structures established by these
probation companies are discriminatory against offenders who are poor. Inherently, those who are least
able to afford the fees are faced with the greatest financial burden. If an offender is financially secure,
he or she is able to pay fines and fees associated with the probation and are knowledgeable of rights by
virtue of being able to afford a private lawyer. The report noted, “In fact, the business of many private
probation companies is built largely on the willingness of courts to discriminate against poor offenders
who can only afford to pay their fines in installments over time.”56
The rise in private probation companies and offender-funded probation services began to gain traction
in the 1970s. Florida opened its first private probation firm in 1975, and in 1976 it passed a law authorizing
other state-approved entities to provide probation services. In 1989, Tennessee and Missouri passed
state laws that legally allowed private entities to provide probation services.57 Since then, private
probation companies have expanded their services to more than 25 states throughout the United
States, including Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Washington,
Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, Oregon,
Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada, Indiana, and
Idaho. In addition, at least 44 states offer offender-funded probation services.58
Most studies on offender-funded probation services conclude that this practice only extends
probationers’ entanglement with the criminal justice system.59
“Individuals stay enmeshed in the criminal justice system for longer and face incarceration
for longer—not for new crimes, but for technical violations of probation conditions, including
payment conditions...Extending probation for a failure to pay off criminal justice debt makes
future interaction with the criminal justice system more likely…”60
When probationers do not pay their fees on time, they breach their probation contract, which further
limits their ability to end their probation time. Federal law disqualifies offenders in breach of their
probation contract from a range of social security benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF), The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), and Supplemental
Security Income for the elderly and disabled.61 In some states, these offenders may even lose their
driving privileges and right to vote. These added stressors only prolong the probation period and often
land probationers in jail. Of course, this is especially true for people who live in poverty.

Page 18

Policy Recommendations
Human Rights Watch made more than 20 policy prescriptions that, if implemented, would
help safeguard the rights of probationers. The following is a summary of the most important
recommendations in the HRW report:
•	 State and federal courts should make sure that probation companies uphold probationers’ rights
by adhering to the rights upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1983 ruling in Bearden v. Georgia.
•	 Legislation should ensure that local courts, not probation companies, determine whether an
offender has the means to pay their fines and debt.
•	 Local courts should hold private probation companies to high standards by: ensuring that the
private probation companies publish information regarding their yearly revenue, including a
breakdown of fees collected from each probationer during a fiscal year; and requiring the private
probation companies to record the number of arrest warrants they issue each year and the
cause for each arrest.62

Page 19


School-to-Prison Pipeline
The vicious cycle of criminalization of poverty often starts very early in poor people’s lives. Poor black and
Latino schoolchildren are much more likely to face harsh disciplinary measures that can place them on a
track into the criminal justice system.
Across the country there is a growing epidemic of armed
police officers arresting juveniles at schools for minor
infractions and misbehavior. According to one complaint
lodged by a resident from Louisiana with the U.S.
Department of Justice, police have unlimited authority
to detain, frisk, and arrest schoolchildren. A parent sends
their child to school to learn. A parent does not send their
child to school with the expectation of the child being
arrested on or off school grounds for minor misbehavior
infractions. A school is supposed to be a safety net to aid in
the improvement of the lives of children, not to support the
violation of this safety net. In some states, police officers are
permanent fixtures on school grounds.63
School-to-Prison Pipeline Effect
The ACLU defines the school-to-prison pipeline as “…
policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren,
especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and
into the juvenile and criminal justice system. This pipeline
Page 20

“One of the first things I saw was a huge
differential in minority students, black male
students in particular, in terms of suspensions
and arrests,” says [Robert Runcie, the
Superintendent of Florida’s Broward County
Public Schools.] Black students made up
two-thirds of all suspensions during the 20112012 school year despite comprising only 40
percent of the student body. And while there
were 15,000 serious incidents like assaults
and drug possession reported that year, 85
percent of all 82,000 suspensions were for
minor incidents—use of profanity, disruptions
of class—and 71 percent of all 1,000-plus
arrests were for misdemeanors. The last
statistic, says Runcie, “was a huge red flag.”
-Excerpted from “Reversing Broward County’s
School-to-Prison Pipeline,” by Bryce Wilson
Stucki in The American Prospect, December 4,
2013 issue.

reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education.” This policy continues to place priority on
excessive penalization of student behavior over education, especially for certain sectors of society.64
The ACLU identified five factors that influence whether a student has a greater chance of being
incarcerated: failing public schools, zero-tolerance and other school discipline concerns, policing school
hallways, court involvement and juvenile detention, and disciplinary alternative schools. This approach
to education produces adverse effects on students that may last a lifetime.65 Although students and
teachers are affected in unsafe schools, actions such as expulsion and arrest do not make schools any
safer. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the above practices do more harm
to academic achievement for all students. In addition, the APA stressed that those excluded will be “…
held back, drop out, and become involved with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” The APA
noted that the school discipline rate has doubled since the 1970s.66
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 Kids Count Data Book reports that not only was there an uptick
in child poverty since the recession,67 but also that evidence suggests
school districts and individual schools are becoming increasingly segregated as poverty and wealth
become more residentially concentrated.68 This reality may decrease the likelihood that low-income and
poor children will encounter educational opportunities in schools where the pipeline is absent.
A nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights found that students
from two groups are disproportionately represented in the pipeline: racial minorities and children with
disabilities. According to the report, black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended or expelled
over their white peers. Whereas black students represent only 16 percent of the student population
nationwide, they make up approximately 32-42 percent of students who are suspended or expelled.69

Page 21

The infographic below, reprinted from The Advancement Project,70 tells the story of many of the ways
the school-to-prison pipeline acts to criminalize poor youth and youth of color.
Figure 5.
Policy Recommendations
Various governmental agencies and
nongovernmental organizations are
working to reform K-12 education and
reverse the effects of the school-toprison pipeline. The U.S. Department
of Justice and Education’s Supportive
School Discipline Initiative targets the
detrimental disciplinary policies that
drive at-risk youth toward the criminal
justice system. The initiative consists
of four components:
Building consensus for action
among federal, state, and local
education and justice stakeholders
Collaborating on research
and data collection needed to
shape policy, such as evaluations of
alternative disciplinary policies and
Developing guidance to ensure
school discipline policies and practices
are in line with the federal civil rights
Promoting awareness and
knowledge about evidence-based and
promising policies and practices71

Page 22


The Criminalization of Homelessness
With high poverty rates and the increase in targeting poor people with fines, fees, and arrests, there has
also been a rise in homelessness in some states. On any given night, an estimated 600,000 people in this
country are homeless. Arguably the worst economic hardship, homelessness is also increasingly treated as
criminal behavior. Homeless people — and even those assisting homeless people — are being targeted by
the criminal justice system.72
The Hardships of Being Homeless
What if you could not sit down, eat, sleep, stand,
place a few possessions, or perform necessary human
functions without fear of being locked up? This is the
harsh reality facing a growing number of homeless
people in the United States. People without homes
are increasingly targeted, criminalized, and arrested
for nothing other than being people with unavoidable
human behaviors and nowhere to perform them
The National Law Center on Homelessness
and Poverty (NLCHP) recently published a
comprehensive report on the national homelessness
crisis. The report focused on the growing ways
in which the mere act of being without a home
is considered a criminal act in a number of cities
Page 23

“I’m 53 years old and I’m half-crippled, so no
one wants to give you a job.”
Franklin, a homeless veteran, is unsuccessfully
looking for work every morning. Franklin lives
in the woods off a highway in South Florida.
Choking up, tells the reporter: “Sleeping out
here with the sand and the bugs, man, it’s real
tough.” To survive, he resorts to asking for
money. He has received four tickets so far for
standing on an exit ramp asking for money.
Franklin says he managed to pay the other
three citations from money he asked for on
the street, but he didn’t think he could get the
$64.50 required by this citation. He pulls in an
average of $10 per day. He said he’s got to pay
it. “It’s either that or jail, which, I’m probably
going to wind up in jail.”73

nationwide. No Safe Place examined policies pertaining to the criminalization of homeless in nearly
200 cities across the nation. Researchers at the center found that the criminalization of life-sustaining
activities is increasing at alarming rates. Furthermore, these punitive policies are not only ineffective, but
costly to taxpayers.
Why are people homeless?
•	 76 percent ban begging in defined public spaces74
•	 A majority of cities — 53 percent — prohibit sitting or lying down in defined public spaces75
•	 43 percent of cities have made it illegal to sleep in vehicles76
Just as poverty is caused by a lack of money, homelessness is caused by the lack of affordable housing.
Since the 1970s, federal funding for affordable housing has been on the decline. Almost 13 percent of
our nation’s affordable housing has been permanently lost since 2001, according to NLCHP’s report. In
the wake of the recession and the foreclosure crisis of 2009, there are more low-income renters without
homes as well as a decreasing number of beds in emergency shelters in major cities.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLICH) has calculated a housing wage, defined as “…
The hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a decent two-bedroom rental home at HUDestimated Fair Market Rent while spending no more than 30 percent of income on housing costs.”77
The NLICH’s recent report Out of Reach finds that, “In the United States, the 2014 two-bedroom
Housing Wage is $18.92. This national average is more than two-and-a-half times the federal minimum
wage and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. In no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford
a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent.”78
Criminalization of Necessary Human Activities
Despite the lack of affordable housing, many U.S. cities have criminalized life-sustaining activities, such
as sleeping, sheltering, sitting, asking for help, sharing food, and even resting. According to NLCHP:
•	 34 percent of cities prohibit public camping (i.e., creating some type of shelter from the
elements) and 57 percent apply this ban in defined public spaces.
•	 18 percent prohibit public sleeping citywide and a third prohibit it in defined public spaces.
•	 24 percent ban begging citywide and 76 illegal to share food with a homeless person.
To enforce these draconian rules, police conduct sweeps of areas where homeless people live,
confiscating shelter, clothing, and even medication.79
Homeless Children and Unaccompanied Youth
Among our nation’s homeless population are an increasing number of children. From 2012 to 2013, the
Unites States experienced an eight percent increase nationwide in the number of homeless children,
according to a National Center on Family Homelessness report America’s Youngest Outcasts. The
report found that homelessness among children in the United States is at a historic high. Two and a half
Page 24

million children are now homeless each year: one in every 30 children in the US.80
Figure 6.

Unaccompanied youth ages 12 to 17 who are living alone on the streets are criminalized even
further than homeless adults and accompanied children. Approaches used to address the needs of
unaccompanied youth without homes tend to be punitive rather than service-based.
In addition, some cities have curfew laws that particularly impact unaccompanied homeless youth.81
Policy Recommendations (drawn from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
and the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research):82
•	 The federal government should invest in affordable housing at the scale necessary to end and
prevent homelessness.
•	 State governments should enact and enforce the Homeless Bill of Rights legislation that
explicitly prohibits the criminalization of homelessness.
•	 Local governments should stop criminalizing homelessness and focus on creating education and
employment opportunities.
•	 All homeless families should receive a comprehensive needs assessments and access to familyoriented services that incorporate trauma-informed care, mental health care, and parenting

Page 25

To improve the lives and opportunities of unaccompanied youth, officials should:
•	 Eliminate curfew laws.
•	 Exempt runaway youth from “Child in Need of Services” statutes that do not provide
appropriate services.
•	 Limit the circumstances under which runaway youth can be taken into custody, set very brief
time limits for such custody, and prohibit housing of runaway youth with delinquent youth or
Provide opportunities for young people to avoid court involvement, through diversion
programs, counseling, treatment, family mediation, housing assistance, and other services, as
well as adequate time to meet treatment goals.
•	 De-classify running away and truancy as status offenses. Assign responsibility for the care and
support of runaway youth to the social service system rather than the juvenile justice system and
prohibit housing runaway youth in secure detention facilities.

Page 26


Confiscating Poor People's Property through Civil Asset Forfeiture
Even if people who lack sufficient resources for a decent standard of living are able to find employment,
pay parking tickets, keep a roof over their heads, and find a safe school for their kids, a little-known but
widespread practice called Civil Asset Forfeiture can wreak havoc on their lives. Law enforcement officials
use this legal tool to confiscate property that they assert has been involved in certain criminal activity —
even if the owner of the property is innocent.
According to a study by the Institute for Justice,
under current “civil asset forfeiture” laws, police
officers and prosecutors can seize someone’s private
property, like a car or a home, without a warrant,
conviction, or charges of committing a crime. In most
states, law enforcement relies solely on reasonable
suspicion that the property was used during the
commission of a crime. Federal, state, and local police
departments liquidate the assets they have seized
and can use the proceeds to fund their departmental
budgets and operations.

Nelly Moreira from Washington, DC used her
2005 Honda Accord to get to her three jobs. In
March 2012, Moreira’s son was pulled over for
a minor traffic stop while driving her car. The
stop turned into a pat down, which resulted in
authorities finding a handgun on him. He was
arrested, and the police seized the car. After she
borrowed enough money to pay the $1,020 bond
fee, Moreira was still denied access to her car.
The bond fee was only the cost of starting the
process of recovering her property from the state
government. Moreira spent a year in a legal battle
to free her impounded vehicle, while struggling to
make car payments.83

•	 Under current Civil Asset Forfeiture laws,
your property is guilty until you prove it
innocent; the owner’s innocence does not
prove the property’s innocence.
•	 The burden to prove the property’s innocence, including legal fees and time, falls on the owner,
Page 27

regardless of if they are innocent or guilty.
•	 A piece of property does not share the constitutional rights of a person. There is no right to due
process and, in most states, no presumption of guilty until proven innocent.
The ACLU reports that civil asset forfeiture practices are riddled with racial profiling and
disproportionately impact low-income black or Latino groups. In general, law enforcement practices fuel
racial inequalities in the criminal justice system by systematically targeting people of color.84
Over the years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has helped train police to profile highway
travelers for potential drug couriers. “This profile is based on associating people of color with crime,
creating a phenomenon known as “driving while black or brown,” reports the ACLU. Similarly, in urban
areas, young minorities are routinely stopped and frisked — which is perfectly legal after a Supreme
Court ruling stated that police only need a reasonable cause for suspicion to stop and search individuals.
A very clear incentive exists for police departments to engage in racial profiling.
•	 Police departments are increasingly dependent on revenue from civil asset forfeitures for
regular operational costs. “By targeting minority communities whose voices and political power
are marginalized, law enforcement agencies can exploit the power of forfeiture without many
Americans ever learning of the practice.”85
•	 As reported by Sarah Stillman in the New Yorker, civil asset forfeitures are overwhelmingly
targeted to low-income people. She reports that most asset and cash seizures are usually small
amounts from people who may not be entitled to a public defender and have trouble affording
a lawyer. This makes getting their property back almost infeasible given the high financial
burden of seeking legal council, which is often more expensive than the value of the property
•	 The Justice Department explicitly bans racial profiling in civil asset forfeitures, but in 400 federal
court cases examined by The Washington Post where people who challenged their asset seizures
won money back, the majority were either black, Hispanic or another minority.87
By allowing law enforcement to use seized property to cushion their department’s budgets, law
enforcement has a dangerous incentive to take property. According to the Institute for Justice, “The
report finds that by giving law enforcement a direct financial stake in forfeiture efforts, most state and
federal laws encourage policing for-profit, not justice.” In addition, the Department of Justice has shared
over $4.5 billion88 in forfeited assets with more than 8,000 state and local law enforcement agencies.89
U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. ended the U.S. Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing
program, which provided a loophole to circumvent state law and make civil asset seizures easier for
local and state police departments. Equitable Sharing enabled local and state police to make civil asset
seizures and then have them “adopted” by Federal agencies, which share in the proceeds of asset

Page 28

Figure 11.

Holder’s move won’t end abuses entirely because civil asset forfeiture is currently legal to varying
degrees in all 50 states, but it will prohibit local police agencies from circumventing state laws. Holder’s
reforms only curb the Federal government’s role in civil asset forfeitures.91
Policy Recommendation:
•	 Civil asset forfeiture should be ended in all 50 states. According to the American Civil Liberties
Union, civil asset forfeiture is a threat to civil liberties and property rights, and state and federal
civil asset forfeiture laws should be reformed.92

Page 29

With the explosion in protests ignited by the police
killing of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson,
Missouri, some aspects of the criminalization of
poverty are getting increased attention. More
people’s eyes were opened to the reality that if you
are poor, you are more likely to be arrested, jailed,
and even killed.
The Ferguson and St. Louis stories and the
2014/2015 Department of Justice investigation of
the Ferguson Police Department and municipal
court94 also helped expose the increase in court
fines and fees targeting the poor. According to an
NPR investigation, the city of Ferguson collected
$2.6 million in such fines and fees in 2013, most
of them for traffic violations and other low-level
offenses. This collection of fines and fees was
Ferguson’s second-largest source of income.95
We need to build on the momentum of the
Ferguson protests to tackle the intersections of
poverty, race, and gender bias that collude to make
life exceptionally difficult for the 15 percent of
our population living in poverty, the additional 2.3
million incarcerated, and the tens of millions more
living close to the edge of poverty.

“Just over a year ago, Tonya DeBerry was
driving her 4-year-old grandson in her
daughter-in-law's car. A St. Louis County
police officer saw that the license plates
were expired and pulled her over. He ran
a background check and saw an arrest
warrant for multiple unpaid traffic tickets
in Ferguson. Among those old violations
were tickets for driving with a suspended
license — lost for earlier unpaid tickets —
and driving with no registration, insurance
or proof of inspection.
DeBerry was arrested and handcuffed in
front of her grandson. After someone came
to pick up the boy, she was taken to jail.
‘J ust traffic tickets. No criminal act.
Nothing," says DeBerry, 52, who doesn't
work and depends on a disability check
and food stamps. "If you have the money,
you would never go through that type of
situation. If you don't have the money, it's
jail, jail.’”
-Excerpted from Shapiro, Joseph. 8
February 2015. “Civil Rights Attorneys
Sue Ferguson Over ‘Debtors Prisons.’”
National Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Justice investigation into
the Ferguson Police Department revealed deeply flawed criminal justice system that disproportionately
affects people of color and low-income people. Ferguson is but a microcosm of a broken criminal justice
system nationwide. At the federal, state, and municipal levels, we must address and find ways to correct
the findings of significant injustices found in the investigation.
We are a nation that has turned its welfare system into a criminal system. We criminalize life-sustaining
activities of people too poor to afford shelter. We incarcerate more people than any other nation in the
world.96 And we institute policies that virtually bar them for life from participating in society once they
have done their time. We have allowed the resurgence of debtors’ prisons. We’ve created a secondtier public education system for poor children and black and Latino children that disproportionally
criminalizes their behavior and sets them early onto the path of incarceration and lack of access to
assistance and opportunity.

Page 30

The events in Ferguson sparked what could be the next civil rights movement in this country. A
democratic society that purports “freedom and justice for all” can’t coexist with one that profiles,
criminalizes and blames poor, black and Latino communities. We need to take collective responsibility
for our hostile nation where the poor get prison.

Page 31

	 Gustafson, K. (2009). The Criminalization of Poverty. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 99(3), 643-716.
	 Brodie, J. M., Pastore, C., Rosser, E., & Selbin, J. (2014). Poverty Law: Policy, and Practice. New York, NY: Aspen
Publishers, 523.
	 Ibid. 535.
	 Ibid. 541.
	 TANF Policy Brief. (2013). Random Drug Testing of TANF Recipients is Costly, Ineffective and Hurts Families. Retrieved
from http://www.
	 Ocen, P. A. (2012). The New Racially Restrictive Covenant: Race, Welfare, and the Policing of Black Women in
Subsidized Housing. UCLA Law Review, 1565. Retrieved from
	 Ehrenreich, B. (2011, August 9). How America Turned Poverty Into a Crime. Salon. Retrieved from
	 Anderson, E., Beemsterboer, N., Benincasa, R., & Van Werkom, B. (2014, May 19). As Court Fees Rise, The Poor are
Paying the Price. NPR. Retrieved from
	 Takei, C. (2014, May 28). WTF? Out Tax Dollars Are Being Spent to Jail a Vet for Being Poor. ACLU National Prison
Project. Retrieved from
	 Reutter, D. M. (2013, November 15). Debtors’ Prisons Returning to America. Prison Legal News. Retrieved from https://
	 Bearden v. Georgia. 461 U.S. 660 (1983). Retrieved from
	 Debtors’ Prisons. Southern Center for Human Rights. Retrieved from
	 Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 2.
Retrieved from
	 Diller, R., Bannon, A., & Nagrecha, M. (2010, October 4). Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry. Brennan Center
for Justice. Accessed at:
	 In for a Penny: The Rise of America’s New Debtors’ Prisons. (2010, October). American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved
	 Solomon, A. L. (2012, June). In Search of a Job: Criminal Records as Barriers to Employment. National Institute of
Justice. 270. Retrieved from
	 Fields, G. & Emshwiller, J. R. (2014, August 18). As Arrest Records Rise, Americans Find Consequences Can Last a
Lifetime. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from
	 Carson, A. E. (2014, September). Prisoners in 2013 Bulletin. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S.
Department of Justice. Retrieved from
	 [Infographic] Confronting Mass Incarceration-The Facts. (2011, June 7). The American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved
	 In for a Penny: The Rise of America’s New Debtor’s Prisons. (2010, October). American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved
	 The National Employment Law Project. (2014, August 1). Seizing the ‘Ban the Box’ Momentum to Advance a New
Generation of Fair Chance Hiring Reforms. Retrieved from
	 Vallas, R. & Dietrich, S. (2014, December 2). One Strike and You’re Out: How We can Eliminate Barriers to Economic
Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://www.


Page 32

	 Reentry from Incarceration. (2012, February). 4, The Safety Net Funders Network. Retrieved from
	 User Guide Frequently Asked Questions. National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, ABA Criminal
Justice Section. Retrieved from
	 Vanden Heuvel, K. (2014, February 24). A National cry for criminal justice reform. The Washington Post. Retrieved
	 Picchi, A. (2015, February 11). Are America’s jails used to punish poor people? CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.
	 Criminal Justice. Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Retrieved from
	 Jobs With Justice. Retrieved from
	 National Employment Law Project. Retrieved from
	 Appelbaum, B. (2015, February 1). Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work. The New York Times.
Retrieved from
	 Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2013. S. 1690, 113th Cong. (2014). Retrieved from
	 Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Retrieved from
	 Daryl V. Atkinson, Senior Staff Attorney. Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Retrieved from http://www.
	 Albin-Lackey, C. (2014). Profiting From Probation: America’s “Offender-Funded” Probation Industry. Human Rights
Watch, 1-2. Retrieved from
	 Ibid. 34
	 Cherdoo. (2015, March 9). The Sentinel doth rob the peasants; the village revolts. The Daily Kos. Retrieved from http://
	 Cohen, A. (2015, February 5). The Private Probation Problem is Worse Than Anyone Thought.The Atlantic. Retrieved
	 FAQ Detail. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from
	 Maruschak, L., Glaze, L., & Bonczar, T. ( 2013, December 19). Adults on Probation in the United States, 1977-2012. Bureau
of Justice. Retrieved from
	 Profiting from Probation: America’s “Offener-Funded” Probation Industry. (2014). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from
	 Martin, M. ( 2014, February 7). Does Probation for Profit Criminalize Poverty? NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.
	 Ibid, 22-39.
	 Rowland, M. G. (2013, September). Federal Probation, Too Many Going Back, Not Enough Getting Out? Supervision
Violations, Supervision and Overcrowding in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 77( 2). Retrieved from http://www.uscourts.
	 Albin-Lackey, C. (2014). Profiting From Probation: America’s “Offender-Funded” Probation Industry. Human Rights
Watch, 1. Retrieved from
	 Teague, M. (2011, December). Probation in America: Armed, Private and Unaffordable? Probation Journal. 58(4) 317-332.
	 State-By-State Court Fees. (2014, Mary 19). NPR. Retrieved from
	 Bannon, A., Nagrecha, M., & Diller, R. (2010). Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry. New York, NY: Brennan Center
for Justice.
	 Ibid, 7.

Page 33

	 To read the entirety of the Human Rights Watch’s policy prescriptions please read, Profiting for Probation: America’s
Offender Funded Probation Industry.
	 The School-to-Prison Pipeline. (2013). Discipline and Behavior. 43. Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern
Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from
	 Locating the School-to-Prison Pipeline. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from
	 What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline? American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from
	 School-to-Prison Pipeline. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved from
	 Kids Count Data Book. (2014). Annie E. Casey Foundation, 10. Retrieved from
	 “Civil Rights Data Collection Data Snapshot: School Discipline.” Issue Brief No. 1. March 2014. U.S. Department of
Education, Office of Civil Rights. Retrieved from
	 School-to-Prison Pipeline Infograph, reprinted with permission from The Advancement Project.
	 Supportive School Discipline Initiative. Department of Education and Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www2.
	 Covert, B. (2013, November 22). More Than 600,00 Americans Are Homeless On Any Given Night. Think Progress.
Retrieved from
	 Lopez, A. D. Andres David Lopez. (2013, June 24). The Criminalization of Homelessness: A Veteran Receives a
Citation for Standing Near a I-95 Ramp. Retrieved from
	 No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities. (2014, July). National Law Center on Homelessness &
Poverty. Retrieved from
	 Arnold, A., Crowley, S., Bravve, E., Brundage, S., & Biddlecombe, C. (2014, March). Out of Reach 2014. National LowIncome Housing Coalition. Retrieved from
	 No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities. (2014, July). National Law Center on Homelessness &
Poverty. Retrieved from
	 Bassuk, E. L., DeCandia, C., Beach, C. A., & Berman, F. (2014, November). America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report
Card on Child Homelessness. Homeless Children of American. American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from http://
	 A Dream Denied: The Criminalization of Homelessness in US Cities. National Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved
	 Stillman, S. ( 2013, August 12). Taken. The New Yorker. Retrieved from
	 Gunja, F. Race and the War on Drugs. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from
	 Sallah, M., O’Harrow Jr, R., & Rich, S. (2014, September 6). Stop and Seize: Aggressive Police Take Hundreds of Millions
of Dollars from Motorists Not Charged with Crimes. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.
	 Williams, H. & Kovandzic. Part I: Policing for Profit. Institute for Justice. Retrieved from
	 Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. (2009, April). Criminal Division. U.S.
Department of Justice. Retrieved from
	 Attorney General Prohibits Federal Agency Adoptions of Assets Seized by State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Page 34

Except Where Needed to Protect Public Safety. (2015, January 16). Justice News. Office of Public Affairs. Department
of Justice. Retrieved from
	 Civil Asset Forfeiture. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from
	 Shapiro, J. (2015, February 8). Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over ‘Debtors Prisons.’ NPR. Retrieved from
	 Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. United States Justice Department Civil Rights Division. Retrieved from
	 Shapiro, J. (2015, February 8). Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over ‘Debtors Prisons.’ NPR. Retrieved from http://
	 Highest to Lowest – Prison Population Total. International Centre for Prison Studies. Retrieved from http://www.

Page 35