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Publisher's Summary

In addition to exposing racially biased policing, the Justice Department's Ferguson Report exposed to the world a system of fines and fees levied for minor crimes in Ferguson, Missouri, that, when they proved too expensive for Ferguson's largely poor, African American population, resulted in jail sentences for thousands of people.

As former staffer to Robert F. Kennedy and current Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman explains in Not a Crime to Be Poor, Ferguson is everywhere in America today. Through money bail systems, fees and fines, strictly enforced laws and regulations against behavior including trespassing and public urination that largely affect the homeless, and the substitution of prisons and jails for the mental hospitals that have traditionally served the impoverished, in one of the richest countries on Earth we have effectively made it a crime to be poor.

Edelman, who famously resigned from the administration of Bill Clinton over welfare "reform," connects the dots between these policies and others including school discipline in poor communities, child support policies affecting the poor, public housing ordinances, addiction treatment, and the specter of public benefits fraud to paint a picture of a mean-spirited, retributive system that seals whole communities into inescapable cycles of poverty.

©2017 Peter Edelman (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Published by arrangement with The New Press (www.thenewpress.com)

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I had no idea that poor people have to pay so much more than rich people for the exact same goods and services. I also didn't realize how many towns, cities, counties, and even states use fees and fines against the poor and middle class to fund the government. Amazing book that highlights a huge problem. I didn't realize people were being sent to prison because their lawn was overgrown, or because the police officer who pulled them over decided to write them thousands of dollars in tickets for minor violations. Contrary to this book's title, in America it is definitely a crime to be poor.

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