Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

The Criminalization of Poverty in the Court System

Reduced public funding forces municipal courts to focus on revenue generating fines, resulting in the uneven application of justice. Court fines and jail time in lieu of ability to pay has disparate impact on poor and minority constituents. These practices can have lasting and devastating consequences for individuals, regardless of whether they are ultimately found culpable of any charge. In this paper, Rutgers law student Michael Simone illuminates how this process plays out in New Jersey and beyond.

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