Talk for Story "How poverty is criminalized around the world"

Talk about this Story

  1. I suggest a title change to “How poverty is criminalised around the world”. I find “How poverty becomes a crime, around the world” rather ambiguous.

  2. Thank you for this suggestion. I wonder about interviewing an historian. What were debtor prisons? Do we still have the legacy of debtors prisons? Does any legal organization have verified details about sentence length and convictions based on income levels?

    1. Thank you Laura, which historians would you suggest?

      1. Rewrite

        I would suggest Vic Gattrell, Cambridge, author of “The Hanging Tree”.

  3. Jimmy Wales is right that there is no law “criminalising poverty” – nothing in black and whet that says “because you are poor you will be identified as a criminal.” The real issue is that the law is used as an instrument of social control and of oppression, even in so called “democratic” jurisdictions. It is the origination, interpretation and enforcement of laws and who originates, interprets them and enforces the law that is the real issue. Take “the rule of law” we are told this is sacrosanct, that rule by law is unbiased, impartial, balanced law as compared to rule by capricious, fickle men (and women). But the “rule of law” is a post-facto justification for many unjust laws that have precipitated theft and murder and a justification for the perpetuation of the laws and systems for making and executing laws by those who inherited the machinery. Security laws that have a wide remit and a wider mission creep are prime examples used by dictators (or would be dictators and those with a tenuous adherence to democracy) to diminish freedoms and to act brutally to suppress opposition – but they use the laws of the land, what is written, not in stone like the Ten Commandments, but as immutable. The origination, interpretation and execution of laws and the frequent absence of representation or inadequate representation among the poor makes the law “look” as though it is criminalising poverty but the law is inert but, like a gun or a car is harmless except in the wrong hands. The orgination, interpretation and execution of law is almost invariably in the hands of conservative, older men who are going to originate, interpret and execute the law in a manner which perpetuates their control of systems that have been designed in law by conservative, older men with a view to the preservation their position and of their property.

  4. I wonder if we can brainstorm here to improve the title. “Criminalization of poverty” is a poetic but not very accurate phrase. I am unaware of any laws anywhere that make it illegal to be poor. The actual issue is multifaceted and real. It would be good to have a strong title which gives the reader a more correct immediate understanding.

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