📚 Book Review: Profit and Punishment 👨‍⚖️

How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice 👍

Prof C Explains

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by Tony Messenger

There has always been a high cost to being poor — renting instead of owning, payday loans instead of credit, and purchasing one meal at a time instead of the month’s groceries.

If you or I are arrested, we will make bail and return home. We have the money to await trial at home. But the process takes on new dimensions in the criminal justice system for those without money.

If you are poor and can’t afford bail, then you sit in jail awaiting a hearing. Meanwhile, you lose your job and perhaps your apartment and car. Then to add insult to injury, when you can finally get a hearing and be released, you are handed a bill for your stay. Unable to pay, you are fined for non-payment and perhaps even put back in jail, only to receive another invoice for your “room and board” in jail. And if you have managed to maintain a job and keep your car, the state might revoke your driver’s license for your sin of non-payment.

A required “ability to pay” hearing should make sure that poor people are not hit with these charges. However, a perverse series of incentives (the incarceration fees are used for the salaries and retirement system for local officials) makes it…

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Prof C Explains

J Scott Christianson: UM Teaching Prof, Technologist & Entrepreneur. Connect with me here: https://www.christiansonjs.com/