Profit and Punishment : How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice
Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Messenger offers the first humane, journalistic expose of an American tragedy: Modern-day debtor’s prisons and how they’ve destroyed the lives of poor Americans.
Profit and Punishment is the most comprehensive look at the criminalization of poverty in the U.S., joining a growing and popular genre that is making a difference. It is Charged meets Evicted, focusing on that touchstone issue of the criminal justice reform movement: the insidious use of fines and fees to raise money for broken government budgets off the backs of the poor, and the partnership those governments have formed with for-profit companies that are getting rich on the backs of people incarcerated for minor crimes.
In a feat of exceptional reporting, Profit and Punishment reveals a familiar reality to the nation’s poor, anchored by the stories of three single mothers living in poverty, one in Oklahoma, one in Missouri, and one in South Carolina, who are abused by a judicial system more focused on debt collection than public safety.
All over the country, similar schemes are criminalizing the vulnerable and the poor, with the full support of politicians in both parties. The geography is Missouri, South Carolina, and Oklahoma. The story is American.
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December 07, 2021