Money has a long history of being used as punishment, and punishment has a long history of being used discriminatorily and violently against communities of color. This volume surveys the many misuses of money as punishment and the range of efforts underway to undo the webs of fines, fees, assessments, charges, and surcharges that undergird so much of state and local funding. Whether in domains that are denominated “civil,” “criminal,” or “administrative,” and whether the needs are about law, health care, employment, housing, education, or safety services, racism intersects with the criminalization of poverty in all of life’s sectors to impose harms felt disproportionately by people of color. In the spring of 2020, the stark inequalities of the pandemic’s impact and of police killings sparked uprisings against the prevalence of state-based violence and of government failures. Those protests have underscored the urgent need for profound, sustainable transformations in government systems that have become all too familiar. This volume maps the structures that generate oppressive practices, the work underway to challenge the inequalities, and the range of proposals to seek lasting alterations of expectations and practices so as to shape a social and political order that is respectful of all individuals’ dignity, generative for communities, and provides a range of services to protect safety and well-being.
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