OPD's Criminalizing Poverty Blog
News and articles related to the criminalization of poverty. For more, please go to our "resources" page.
A guilty plea (even considering the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record) can look attractive when compared to the alternative of days or weeks in jail before a trial.
A dysfunctional bail system contributes to mass incarceration.
Pretrial detention results in negative consequences that are unrelated to a person's guilt or innocence.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Office for Civil Rights recently issued an advisory about the levying of fines and fees on juveniles. Of note, the advisory acknowledges that juveniles are generally unable to pay fines and fees themselves and that these court costs burden families that may already have difficulty paying for things like “food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities.” Further, court costs may “foreclose educational opportunities for system-involved youth or other family members.” It also points out that fines and fees actually increase the risk of recidivism rather than help rehabilitate youth.
In December 2016, PBS aired two episodes of The Tavis Smiley Show which consisted of a town hall-style meeting, featuring the participation of four current or former Ohio judges. The town hall was designed to bring awareness to issues surrounding the imposition and collection of fines and fees, and also the problems caused by current approaches to pretrial bail.
The newest edition of the Harvard Law Review includes an article from President Barack Obama on his administration’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
President Obama's Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, has been a diligent ally in the fight against the criminalization of poverty.
The Criminalizing Poverty Webpage and Blog was started by Office of the Ohio Public Defender's Racial Justice Initiative in order to raise awareness about how the court system targets low-income individuals for costs, fees, and fines that they are generally unable to pay, and to provide resources to defenders to help attack these practices.