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How—and Why—America Criminalizes Poverty

Court fines and fees have been a part of the American court system since the beginning. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, for instance, was fined $10, plus an additional $4 in court costs, when she was cited for a municipal ordinance violation in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 for sitting on a bus reserved for whites. After the Great Recession, lawmakers increasingly turned to fines and fees to fund court services and other elements of government. “Over time, lawmakers started to use the courts as a piggy bank,” Foster said. “The results are truly staggering.” Read more

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