© 2021 KALW
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Your Call: How did poverty become a crime in the US?

Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons
A bail bond agency in Indianapolis

When people who commit minor crimes can't pay their fines, they often end up in jail. It's just one aspect of systemic inequality in the criminal justice system. Peter Edelman explores this racially biased system in his new book Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America.

He argues that the phrases 'school-to-prison pipeline' and 'cradle-to-prison pipeline' are too narrow. The United States has developed a criminal justice system that ensures a cradle to coffin pipeline. What's being done to change a system that traps entire communities in inescapable cycles of poverty? We'll speak with Edelman and Brendon Woods, the first African American public defender in Alameda County.



Peter Edelman, professor of Law and Public Policy and faculty director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center, author of Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America


Brendon Woods, the first African American Public Defender of Alameda County with more than 20 years of experience in criminal defense litigation, and president of the California Public Defenders Association


Web Resources:


Guardian US: How it became a crime to be poor in America

New York Times: Justice Dept. Revokes 25 Legal Guidance Documents Dating to 1975

Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

The New Yorker: Kalief Browder, 1993–2015

ABC News: Kalief Browder's Life Behind Bars and Who He Might Have Been

Miami Herald: Graphic photos stir doubts about Darren Rainey’s ‘accidental’ prison death

Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular Friday media roundtable guest in 2001.