Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

If the tax cuts are not enough for you....

How it became a crime to be poor in America

In the United States, a system of modern peonage - essentially, a government-run loan shark operation - has been going on for years. Beginning in the 1990s, the country adopted a set of criminal justice strategies that punish poor people for their poverty. Right now in America, 10 million people, representing two-thirds of all current and former offenders in the country, owe governments a total of $50bn in accumulated fines, fees and other impositions.

The problem of "high fines and misdemeanors" exists across many parts of the country: throughout much of the south; in states ranging from Washington to Oklahoma to Colorado [...]

As a result, poor people lose their liberty and often lose their jobs, are frequently barred from a host of public benefits, may lose custody of their children, and may even lose their right to vote. Immigrants, even some with green cards, can be subject to deportation. Once incarcerated, impoverished inmates with no access to paid work are often charged for their room and board. Many debtors will carry debts to their deaths, hounded by bill collectors and new prosecutions.

[...] to understand America's new impulse to make being poor a crime, one has to follow the trail of tax cuts that began in the Reagan era, which created revenue gaps all over the country.

The anti-tax lobby told voters they would get something for nothing: the state or municipality would tighten its belt a little, it would collect big money from low-level offenders, and everything would be fine.

Deep budget cuts ensued, and the onus of paying for our justice system - from courts to law enforcement agencies and even other arms of government - began to shift to the "users" of the courts, including those least equipped to pay.

Trump or sunshine...

by das monde on Fri Nov 10th, 2017 at 03:05:18 AM EST
re: "Beginning in the 1990s..."

About that? No. Let's roll that back to 1789.

I've had the pleasure of informing some UIDs who were complaining about the compensation CA female inmates who volunteered to work forest fires. iirc, $2/hr + incremental time served. I'm, like, cain't you see progress staring you in the face?!

XIII Amendment: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

VIII Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted, if "peonage" be arranged instead...

Quoting Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) legitimizing apartheid in the USA ("Jim Crow") to an UID laboring with the impression that affected only poll taxes and literacy testing to exercise a vote ...

Quoting Wilson and DiIulio, high school AP American Government: Institutions and Policies, 14th Edition: "As we shall see, American welfare policy since the 1930s has been fundamentally shaped by a slow but steady change in how we have separated the 'deserving' from the 'undeserving' poor" ...

Quoting Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America ...

Quoting the curiously atavistic Bail Reform Acts of 1984...

Quoting Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Virginia just last summer ...

Being poor in US America has always been a "crime."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Nov 10th, 2017 at 05:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adolph Reed has contributed much more to analyses of the repression of class discourse in US mass "movements," or Identitarianism, than you may have gathered fro the occasional Jacobin articles.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 at 08:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]