The NYPD 12 and The Revelation of Racism within The System

The 2018 documentary Crime and Punishment, released on Hulu, centers on a dozen New York Police Department officers, both retired and employed, bringing forth a class action lawsuit against the city for enforcing racist quotas, and then retaliating against officers for not complying. In the state of New York, it was made illegal for police departments to mandate their officers follow quotas and summonses, yet in the largest police department in the country, New York City continued to expect their cops to arrest a certain number of people a month. While quotas in general are already controversial enough, there were many racist undertones to these policies, most likely due to broken windows theory forcing officers to have higher patrols in impoverished neighborhoods. Essentially, in order to meet these quotas, police officers would arrest people, primarily young black and Latino boys, for offenses such as possession of a weapon, and then dismiss the case due to lack of evidence; this in turn creates a ripple effect for minority boys so that if they ever are arrested and they actually did commit the crime they’re accused of, a judge will look at their record of false arrests and likely impose an even harsher sentence or bail. The quotas also brought great harm to minority police officers, such as NYPD 12 Edwin Raymond who was denied promotion first for being a black man with dreads and then for calling out the NYPD for corruption. Ultimately, the community supported the NYPD 12 and their lawsuit and the police commissioner stepped down from his position, however the lawsuit found that police cannot sue for imposing quotas but only file complaints about it.

This film exposed the intricacies of the reasons why the police target minorities, and it is a perspective that is important to highlight when studying the criminal justice system. Many young men in New York were interviewed about their experiences, and most of them revealed the pattern of racial profiling that goes on in their neighborhoods. This term was defined in class as “any policing that subjects individuals to greater scrutiny based in whole or in part on race” (Hutchins, 2018). One police officer even admitted to being instructed to do racial profiling, as his sergeant told him to stop any black male between the ages of 14 to 21, and the officer has no choice but to oblige unless he wants to lose his job. Racial profiling then leads to arrests and sitting in prison instead of sitting in a classroom, as was the case for Pedro Hernandez, who was accused of shooting someone and then held in Rikers under a $250,000 bond. Oftentimes, young people in lower income neighborhoods have less power when it comes to the police, and when they are forced to pay bonds like Pedro was, despite no evidence being found for his alleged crime, it contributes to NYPD’s annual budget; perhaps another justification that is used for profiling black and Latino men above all others. Rikers Island is infamous for housing more than the facilities can handle, and “of the 77,000 people who come through there during the year, 85 percent have not yet been convicted of a crime” (Edelman, p.51, 2017).

Unfortunately, exploiting people for monetary purposes is not the only reason the NYPD targets black boys. There is the narrative that African American males are more prone to violence and criminal activity, and surveys have found that people believe “African Americans pose a greater threat to public order and safety than other groups, as well as support for harsher juvenile sanctions” (Davis, p.50, 2018). The super predator mindset is dangerous, and by forcing police officers to meet a quota at the end of the month, they are left with little options but to target the people who no one will care enough to fight for. One of the men in the film spoke of this, and believes that police will get a racial disparate outcome without ever having to mention race to their officers.

I think a majority of the time we place our focus on the victims of the criminal justice system, evaluating how race and sex is used against people, but this documentary truly highlights the actors that criminalize people, and how they are affected by it. One of the themes of this film was about how much bond and bail money contribute to a police department’s budget, and that it is the more subtle reason why quotas are still enforced. This really stood out to me, as it goes back to America’s history of prioritizing money in the name of degrading an entire race of people. Ultimately, I believe this documentary did a great job of explaining both sides of the coin and did not leave much room for interpretation; whatever opinions they had, the officers backed it up with evidence. Crime and Punishment is a great watch for anyone needs to hear more from the inside as opposed to the black boys being affected by institutional racism, and genuinely exposes police department’s intentions.




Davis, A. J. (2018). Policing the Black man: arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Edelman, P. B. (2017). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. The New Press.

Hutchins, M. (2018). The endurance of racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In A. Davis (Ed.), Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 31–56). story, Vintage Books.


Poverty and Homelessness: The Underlying Issue in the World

The film that I chose to watch for this media blog is called The Families Forced into Homelessness: No Place to Call Home.This documentary was published on March 7, 2019 by Real Stories. This film is based off of poverty and becoming homeless from it. Although this film is based off of the location in London, it still applies to our country. I say this because homelessness and poverty is something that is being dealt with all over the world and it is important that we as a society understand that this is a universal problem. In this documentary, two families end up evicted by their landlords. They must deal with a year of homelessness and switching from house to house to stay with their friends and family. The families presented in this documentary are single mothers with young children. The children have to ride a wave of homelessness, while trying to face unexpected changes daily.

In the documentary, the mothers were faced with challenges on how they have children that are still in school and they are becoming homeless. These challenges that were faced were on how they were going to get to school when they are moved so far away from it and if they are still going to be able to attend school. A reading that we discussed in class stated, “According to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 1.4 million school children experienced homelessness during the 2016-2017 school year. Some of these children were among the estimated 4.4 million poor people in 2017 who were temporarily sleeping on the floors or couches of family or friends because they could not afford their own housing,” (National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2019, p. 28). This is a huge issue in our world today where there needs to be a change. School is an important factor in every child’s life where they need to start early on and continue. How are they supposed to attend school when they’re homeless? They simply can’t, or at least get the correct education.

A key point addressed numerous times in this documentary was poverty. Poverty in the world is a crisis that has been ongoing for years. Living in poverty is something one will never understand unless they go through it themselves. After reading and learning about poverty in homelessness, it gave me more understanding of it all. In the book, Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America, it is mentioned, “We have to turn the coin over and provide prenatal care for all, child development for all children, first- class education for all, decent jobs and effective work supports, affordable housing, health lawyers as needed, safe neighborhoods, no violence on the street or at home, healthy communities, economic, social, racial and gender justice, and justice rather than charity,” (Edelman, 2017, p. 183). I couldn’t agree more with this statement. After seeing the daily struggles of what these families had to go through for months, it made me realize how important these struggles can affect people and what they can do to someone’s life.

Another key point presented in this film is the court and law when dealing with homelessness and poverty. As many aspects in class we discussed how race in courts is an issue that our world deals with. In this documentary, it was discussed how the court blamed the mother of being intentionally homeless (the mother was African American). This is a big issue in the criminal justice system. Nobody has intentions to be homeless. In my opinion, the judge stating that to the bother should have been working on ways to get her and her children to be safe and find them a home.

This documentary gave me a better understanding to the real struggles in daily lives to homelessness and poverty and how it can affect a human being. It also gave me a better visual understanding to what we have been learning in our readings and discussions in class. In this documentary, it helped me relate a lot of the statistics and facts that we have learned in our readings and helped demonstrate what really goes on when someone is homeless and struggling mentally and physically.

I would recommend this documentary not only because of how eye opening it is, but how much someone can learn from watching it. It makes you want to help these people struggling and make we as a society make a difference in the world so people don’t have to go through this anymore. Thankfully, the families in this documentary were able to find peace and a home eventually, but it was still an experience that they will have to deal with in their everyday lives mentally. It makes you realize how truly blessed you are in life.

















Edelman, P.B. (2017). Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America(p.

183). New York. The New York Press.

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. (2019). Housing not handcuffs: Ending the

criminalization of homelessness & Poverty(p. 28). Retrieved from

Link for film:

The Daily Life in Poverty

The media source I chose to watch was a documentary called How Poor People Survive in the United States of America. This documentary is based off of the homeless people in the U.S. and what they do to survive in their everyday lives. This short documentary followed Americans in different states and cities in the United States. These places include Los Angeles California, Richmond Virginia, Roanoke Virginia, and Texas. The film gave insight to how much the homeless struggle every day, even by working everyday of their lives while living in their cars, or even on the side of the streets. It was very eye opening to me as they even showed at the end of the documentary a program that was created for people to spend a day in the life as being homeless. Many of the people could not survive and made them realize they couldn’t live in the life below the poverty line like millions of Americans do every day.

One of the key points presented in this documentary was that poverty can affect millions of Americans in their daily lives in the blink of an eye. There were many people in this documentary working full time jobs, had a beautiful home, married, and one day lost it all. For example, a guy named Eric, once had a full time job as a computer engineer, and one day lost his job. He had struggled being able to keep up with his bills and fell below the poverty line: making him homeless. Once having his own home and a full time job, he is now living in his car, working as an Uber driver, and getting leftover pizza from a restaurant that keeps it in their showcase every day. Another key point that the documentary pointed out was the lack of healthcare that people receive and physical insecurity. There were short clips in the documentary where they showed a free healthcare service to the homeless that only happens once a year for them to get the care they need. This is just basic healthcare, of course, but it made a huge difference in these humans lives. The amount of physical insecurity also was pointed out many times within the documentary. These homeless people feel insecure wishing they weren’t judged by others for trying to get back on their feet and even how they look every day. When people got the dental care they needed in the documentary (a pair of dentures) they were so grateful they were crying and it was very eye opening to realize how blessed (we) are to be able to have the proper hygiene we do to take care of ourselves and not have to be in (their) shoes.

This documentary also showed how lower class people are treated compared to the middle and upper class- very poorly. For example, when a landlord evicts someone from their apartment for rent being past due. In Virginia, the landlord has the right to begin the eviction process if rent is late by 5 days. People may be waiting for paychecks, or there may be other things going on in their lives causing the rent to be due. The documentary showed sheriffs coming into a woman’s home without her being there, and allowing the landlord to change the locks with her belongings still in there. The woman showed up later and the Sherriff asked where she was going to go and she had no idea: causing her to be homeless in just one day. There is a lot of discrimination and inequality when it comes to homeless people- giving them a reputation that many don’t have.

When we discussed in class what comes to mind when we think of homeless people, the first thing I thought of was them begging for money, or even faking it. This documentary showed how much homeless people actually struggle in their daily lives and opens up your view that you really should not ignore it and do your best to help these people. Doing something so little for someone on the streets can go a long way. We who are fortunate must never dismiss the unfortunate.

Edelman writes, “Rich people make bail; poor people don’t. Regardless of actual guilt or innocence, poor people are criminalized for their inability to buy their way out of jail,” (Edelman 2019). This quote relates to this documentary in many ways. The documentary points out how many homeless people have to commit illegal crimes in order to survive. This includes sleeping on the sidewalks in tents or across people’s homes where they live, digging in the trash for food, and even begging for food. These illegal acts can cause these homeless people to get arrested-which also brings back to what we talked about in class: more homeless people are arrested than housed people. If these homeless people are arrested for doing the acts they did in order to survive-how are they supposed to pay the bail to get out of jail.

This documentary gave me more understanding and insight into the lives of homeless people. The organizations that were included in this film gave me more hope in humanity by showing what they do every day to help these people. I believe to help this poverty, we as a society should show support and create more programs to help those in need. I recommend this documentary because it sheds light on the struggles and made me appreciate all that I have.







Edelman, P.B. (2019). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. New York: The New Press.

Public Defenders: The Hazards of Client to Attorney Ratios

Media used: Broken Justice Podcast, PBS, November 5, 2019, LINK

          The media source I used is the first episode of a podcast titled Broken Justice. This podcast discusses the issues surrounding the public defender system nationwide and the impact these difficulties have on the indigent defendants that are represented by the overworked public defenders. This particular episode includes interviews with a public defender named Jeff Esparza and his client Kevin Shepard in which they share their experience in Kansas City, Missouri and the impacts it had on Shepard’s life.
The case in question was a charge of the unlawful use of a firearm. With a charge as serious as this Shepard needed an attorney but, since he could not afford one, he applied for a public defender. While waiting for his public defender Shepard had to wait in the jail without the ability to post bail or personally negotiate his release based on his financial situation. Under these circumstances, he waited in jail for nearly two months before Esparza was assigned to his case despite the lawyer having over 100 pending felony cases at the time. Esparza attempted to refuse the case in order to ensure that his existing clients and Shepard would be able to receive the counsel they deserve only to have the judge knowingly deny his request and further burden the struggling public defender.

It took 118 days after initial arrest for Shepard to be released to no home and no property. It was nearly a year after his arrest and Shepard was still in the preliminary stages of the process, still awaiting a trial date. A couple of months later, Shepard passed away. Esparza was notified by the PBS team working on the podcast of his client’s death. Sadly, Shepard’s lawyer had to be notified by a third party that his own client had passed away.

The case involving Shepard and Esparza are not an isolated event, their struggles are mirrored in public defenders offices nationwide. Public defender offices are suffering caseloads at an astonishing highs as evidenced by Austin, Jr. and Martinez (2019) when they mention that public defenders offices exceed the maximum recommended limit of cases handled per attorney in three quarters of county public defender offices nationwide in 2007. When this is coupled with the steady reduction in the funding of public defenders offices it is no surprise that indigent defendants are suffering systemic discrimination as a result of their poverty. They suffer extended stays in facilities awaiting trial due to the staggering caseloads the public defenders must endure. Without the funding the county needs, they cannot hire a sufficient number of public defenders to properly represent them to the best of their ability. The article by Austin, Jr. and Martinez (2019) goes on to reference ways that this burden can be shared between the public defenders and prosecution. The two sides must do their best to work hand in hand to reduce the impact of the caseloads and improve the chances of those who rely on the system to have their rights protected.

An argument can be made that the core of the issue is entirely financial. The simple addition of more public defenders will reduce the individual caseload and allow the county to better support their clients. The Brennan Study (as cited in TCR Staff, 2009) echo the argument that funding is a crucial improvement that can be made to the system. An increase in the funding of public defenders offices can lead to reductions in workloads, access to more and better support staff, and can decrease the staggering pay gap between prosecutors and public defenders. When there are instances in which the public defender in a jurisdiction is earning $15,000 less than the most junior prosecutor (TCR Staff, 2019), it can hardly be called a fair fight in our adversarial system.

I would unhesitatingly recommend the first episode of the Broken Justice podcast to anyone looking to better understand the issues that plague the public defender system. What is included in this work arguably covers only three quarters of the content available in the first episode. Understanding the core of a system so broken that the participants are often called “Public Pretenders” even while working with the same ethos as that of a trauma center: triage. The episode provides a surprising amount of insight into the struggles of the system without minimizing the severity and seriousness of the systematic failures. The episode provides the listener with insight into just how varied the cases that a public defender handles and just how serious the disparity in preparedness and funding can be for an indigent defendant. A highlight of the podcast is the frequent use of interview snippets, increasing the confidence a listener can have in the information they are hearing. PBS has produced a masterpiece of a podcast that will certainly satisfy anyone looking to bolster their knowledge of or start learning about the issues plaguing the public defender system as it exists today.


Austin, Jr. & Martinez (2019, March 27) Can prosecutors and public defenders team up to produce fairer justice. Retrieved from

PBS (2019, November 5) Broken justice, Episode 1: Triage. Retrieved from

TCR Staff (2019, September 9) More $$$s needed to end ‘crisis’ in US public defender system: Study. Retrieved from

Kids in Prison

Brian Robinson

May 4, 2020

For my finally blog post I pick the topic kids in prison and the video I pick for this paper was Juvenile detention, Kids behind bars, Children in Prison documentary. There are 2,200 juveniles serving life sentences without the possibility of parole and 60% of those juveniles are black. I think that is a big problem in our country that’s not getting the right attention it needs the court system is letting these young males grow up in the prison system and putting them back on the streets like it’s normal. These kids have been gone for 10 to 20 years without getting the right help they needed while incarcerated and people think that’s fine. In the documentary it said “kids as young as 13 have been sentenced to life in prison without parole” but what make things worst only 5% of the youth are arrested for crimes of homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. So, your putting these kids on trial as adults for these minor crimes and giving them harass punishments so you can make an example out of them and it’s really mess up.  The states North Carolina and New York kept the law that youth as young as 16 years old can be charged as adults and be sent to adult prisons. The school system is another reason why these kids are getting into trouble at a young age because there making schools like jails. In 2008 New York City had 5,246 law enforcement officers in its public schools and only had 3,152 guidance counselors (Edelman, 2017, p.123) this is a prime example of money not being used for the right thing. Teenagers are not fully developed at the ages of 15 and 16 so by exposing them to life behind bars at a young age is gone mess their thought process up.

Imagine you put a 16-year-old boy in a State prison for 20 years there are so many things that could go wrong. First the kid is in jeopardy of being beaten by older inmates and staff next younger people in jail are more likely to be threatened with weapons in jail. On top of that you’re not letting these kids get their diploma while in jail and you’re not offering any youth development programs so you expect this 16-year-old boy who served 20 to just come back into society like things are normal. Now it’s gone be hard for him to find a job because he felony so how is he gone make money? and most likely he gone go back to his old habits so he can survive. Three things that separate kids from adults are the lack of maturity, inability to appreciate the consequences of their actions and juveniles are more vulnerable and they are susceptible to negative influence.  In the book policing the black man Christopher Armstrong was charged in federal court in Los Angeles with distribution of crack cocaine, several firearms offenses and other felonies. His lawyer was an attorney in a public defender office and had been keeping track of the number of African Americans who went to federal court for these types of offenses. They noticed that it appeared that all African Americans charged with these offenses were charged in federal court while white defendants charged with the same offenses were charged in state court (Davis, 2017, p.184).

While watching the documentary she talks about a good point saying, “There are a lot of kids behind bars saying the developmental and education programs are considered privileges and are not considered mandatory rights”. If these kids commit minor violations while in jail their chances of being apart these programs are low, it’s hard for a kid in a negative environment to stay focus and out of trouble. Then the punishment for these violations could be solitary confinement and that’s the harass thing you can give to a 17-year-old boy. It doesn’t make sense to me to put a 17 – year – old boy in a box for 23 hours a day and what makes it worst they leave these kids in solitary confinement for years. So basically, your letting a kid grow up in a box and I just find that so sick. If we don’t fix this problem and start giving our youth the right tools in life so they can be great people in the future were just setting our youth up for failure.



Juvenile Detention, Kids Behind Bars, Children’s in Prison Documentary


Edelman, Peter. Not A Crime to Be Poor. United States: The New Press, 2017

Davis, Angela J., Policing the Black Man. United States: Pantheon Books, 2017




The Opposite of Criminalization is Humanization

African Americans make up 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. 13th is a documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay that explores the history of mass incarceration and its influence on African Americans since the slavery era. As its namesake, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution grants freedom to all Americans, with one exception; criminals. This clause was used as a tool for systematic oppression ever since the ideologies that legitimized, perpetuated, and defended slavery had developed into the mythology of black criminality. Freedom doesn’t apply to criminals, just as it hadn’t applied to slaves. And so, this amendments ratification did little to stop the implicitly racial application of supposed “race-neutral” policies and strategies created by to keep the economic system of slavery alive. This documentary is an in-depth analysis of how systems of oppression have a tendency to find expression in new ways. By systematically targeting disadvantaged black men in the criminal justice system, the United States has found a way to subject the African American population in the reinvention of slavery, under the guise of convict labor and public safety. Instead of slaves working in the fields, the United States now has corporations operating in prisons to keep criminals working, under that same ideology of the white political elite keeping black bodies working (DuVernay, 2016).

Mauer (2018) describes mass incarceration as the method in which the criminal justice system has chosen to create law and order by criminalizing the circumstances that black men of low-income communities face. This relates to what we discuss for class in how the documentary described Jim Crow laws as a function to permanently deem African Americans as a second class status. Stevenson (2018) described the policies and strategies derived from Jim Crow as a function to maintain that racial subordination and white supremacy. The “baby boom” generation was referenced to in both sources as an ulterior cause to the rise in crime during the era of the civil rights movement. Rather than a variable of race, an increase in crime rates during this time was due to the simultaneous increase of the fifteen to twenty-four-year-old populations; which we empirically support as the age group that commits crimes at higher rates (Mauer, 2018). Since this misconception, the resulting era of mass incarceration has been deemed the primary civil rights issue of the twenty-first century (Mauer, 2018).

Following the same perspective as the class material, the documentary references Birth of a Nation as an influential film for accurately predicting how race would operate in the United States. Stevenson (2018) refers to the era of this films debut as the time in which color emerged as the defining mark for the United States to shape its culture, politics, and economy. The film referenced the black male as an animalistic threat to white society, sparking a theme in which created an implicit fear for the “white prey” versus the “black predator” (DuVernay, 2016). Randall Kennedy discussed the influence of this theme in our class lecture, when describing the supposed race-neutral policy of disparate penalties for crack cocaine and powder as a sensible response in order to protect the law-abiding white people “against the criminals preying on them” (as cited in Mauer, 2018).

The war on drugs was a historic political initiative that served as the solution to criminalize the problem of a now freed black population (Stevenson, 2018). Interpreted as a crime issue instead of a health issue, society prioritized punishment over rehabilitation simply because it was seen to be affecting only the population of lesser interest; African Americans (Mauer, 2018). Disparate sentencing then came into effect as a byproduct of which population each drug was effecting; crack was more punitive than cocaine because crack was seen to be black crime problem, while the white cocaine users needed treatment instead (DuVernay, 2016). This trend is allowed to continue through mass incarceration of drug offenders, as it serves to blacken America’s prison population because of our neglect to recognize the impact of history on black Americans.

Once you’ve been branded a criminal, some aspect of Jim Crow are now legal for these same reasons. African Americans are inherently subjected to a compound effect of mass incarceration, since the practice has lead to an increased number of criminals convicted for low-level drug offenses and increased sentences for those with a prior record; both of which we know are already common for African American population (Stevenson, 2018). It’s because of this that we have more black males under correctional supervision than we ever had in slavery (DuVernay, 2016). Stevenson (2018) goes as far to suggest that racial terror lynching, the war on drugs, and “race-neutral” policies like the habitual offender rule are all tools used to victimize African American communities. The racial biases within these policies, created to legalize racial subordination, have compromised the ability for just treatment in our criminal justice system (Stevenson, 2018). After centuries of freeing an oppressed population, only to condemn them to new forms of that same subjugation, this documentary begs the question; is the United States really the land of the free?

As this documentary led me develop a deeper understanding of this issue, I believe the answer is no. Our society is the product of the history that our ancestors had chosen, and we are left to develop it with nothing to go off of, except our history. A lack of understanding for that history is exactly what we have, in our historic failure to effectively address the legacy of racial inequality (Stevenson, 2018). And I believe that this documentary is a great tool to fill that hole; to educate society, escape resistance for understanding the victimization of black people, and confront our violent past in order to end the cycle our ancestors had created (Stevenson, 2018).

By Jenna Albitz



DuVernay, A. (Director) (2016). 13th,

Mauer, M. (2018). The endurance of racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 31-56). Vintage Books.

Stevenson, B. (2018). A presumption of guilt: The legacy of America’s history of racial injustice. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 3-20). Vintage Books.


Crib to Criminal

From Crib to Criminal

The title of the podcast that I listened to for this blog post is, Growing up With Gangs, Poverty, and Knife Crime which was produced by Joshua Kelly from Today in Focus on December 23, 2019. I found this podcast on Spotify and it immediately peaked my interest. Growing up With Gangs, Poverty, and Knife Crime is about a reporter named, Phillip Alston, who spends four months at a youth club in West London, England called The Bollo. Here he meets two teenage boys and others who explain their hardships with living in such an impoverished area. The big contributor to their decision making process and livelihood is the outlet that most tend to seek of gang membership. Not only is there one gang in this area, but there are two who are very present and have an intense rivalry that is very much so alive and well. Because of this, a lot of youth clubs in the London area began to close down. Violence has gotten out of hand and inequality continues to grow in West London. Housing is impossible to obtain and the only place that the youth have to go to that was not school or home was being demolished for middle-class housing. These kids continuously struggle and have lived their lives with the government placing a band-aid on their problems instead of taking care of their problems. Throughout the podcast, multiple kids who attended the Bollo Youth Club had been killed or charged with murder. Those involved were as young as fifteen. The Bollo Club was moved after the upper middle class cried about their neighborhoods being overpopulated with delinquents. The club agreed to move in hopes that the move would better their environment and remove themselves from the predominant gang activity by leaving it all behind. Unfortunately, the club brought the gang violence and members with it and the middle-class in the new area began to make noise about the club and demanded they be evicted. Their main reasoning was that their community could use it for something for the tenants’ benefit like a laundromat or coffee shop. In the conclusion of the podcast, Alston asked the kids about the petition for their removal and the holiday coming up. The kids responded that they hope that the petition holds out a little longer because a lot of them spend Christmas at the center. I found that to be absolutely heartbreaking and very similar to the United States and our poverty-stricken areas.

I chose this podcast because I thought it would provide us with some interesting insight on other countries and their struggles with poverty and crime. I think it is important to acknowledge that this is a universal problem, not just a nation-wide one. Very much so like Lakish Briggs mentioned in, Not a Crime to be Poor, these kids are being criminalized when in reality they are very much so victims of the system (Edelman, 2019). Briggs was a victim of the law that prohibited citizens from calling 9-1-1 more than three times within four months. She suffered from domestic abuse and did not have one reliable outlet because the people who were supposed to protect her the most, the government and the police, enforced a law as if people like her were an inconvenience. Because of this, Briggs continued her toxic lifestyle and not by choice (Edelman, 2019, p. 135). These kids in London at the Bollo are very similar. They are endlessly rejected and turn to what they know whether it fits their morals or not. They do not have a choice, it is about survival. Another connection I made was with the kids at Bollo and their situation with Sandra Park of the ACLU’s statement. She described the laws I previously discussed as victimizing the victim twice (Edelman, 140). The same idea pertains to the kids in Bollo. They are already victims of inequality, attempt to find a resource to better themselves, and then are run out of that resource by the city. Poverty and its connection to crime is an endless cycle until the government acknowledges the seriousness of poverty and its effects.



Edelman, Peter B. Not a Crime to Be Poor: the Criminalization of Poverty in America. The New Press, 2019.

Kelly, Joshua. “Growing Up With Gangs, Poverty, and Crime.” Today in Focus,  performance by Anushka Asthana, and Phillip Alston, 23 Dec. 2019.

More Than Just Poor

More Than Just Poor

I listened to the podcast of Broken Justice as they talked about how the justice system in failing for indigent people. As the 6th amendment goes, everyone has the right to a speedy trial and an attorney if you cannot afford one but that is just the opposite of what is going on in this country. Many indigent citizens are sitting in jail for days, months, weeks, and some cases years just waiting for trial simply because they cannot afford bail. Public defenders are working their hardest to try to get these people out of jail and to see their day in court but the public defenders are so back up on work they do not have the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to the cases. A lot of this backup is due to underfunding; Missouri is 49/50 according to reports of funding and is the one of the highest for incarceration rates. Of all felony charges public defenders handle 82% nation wide and in Missouri they handled 93%. Not enough lawyers and public defenders as Missouri had 380 workers handling 75,000 cases.

In the podcast some of the discriminations and inequality not just in Missouri, but also all over the country is how the indigent go through trial. District attorneys, prosecutors, and even those who are able to hire their own lawyer are treated differently than the indigent. In the podcast they had mentioned that you can sometimes and it is rare, that you could get your bail reduced for those who cant afford bail but the catch is, you need a lawyer for that. Therefore, coming back to the point of these people not having money to do that in the first place and not wanting to sit in jail waiting for a public defender and their day in court. In addition, some of the inequality comes in the courtroom as well. In my reading of the “Michigan Law Review Indigent” defense article that in the case of Cronic v. United States the defense attorney only had 25 days to prepare and the prosecution of U.S attorney already had 4.5 years preparing for this (Samantha Jaffe, 2017). The difference in the amount of time each side has to prepare wasn’t even close and is sad that in a fair statement, Cronic was already on the losing side from the beginning. Some people of the court don’t care either as in chapter three of Edelman’s book “Not a Crime to be Poor,” he states that Steinberg and Feige know that in some states judges have the option of setting a personal recognizance bond or an arrangement involving the signing of a promissory note rather than paying cash up front but they do not use that option (Edelman, 2017).

In class we have talked about the chronic underfunding that is going on that plays a huge role in failure of the indigent defense system. There are so many laws in place that seem to keep them in a constant cycle of debt. In the “Court Fees Create ‘Endless Cycle of Debt’ for poor” report shows that collection fees and interest that keeps accruing are trapping some defendants in an endless cycle of debt (The Crime Report, 2016). In chapter three of Edelman’s book is all about money bail and tells about the problems it creates and some solutions that aren’t really doing any good. New York wants to spend $18 million annually to triple the number of defendants under pretrial supervision instead of being in jail. This may seem like a good idea and had high praise but Steinberg and Feige said, “the proposal is a combination of expensive and unnecessary hurdles for the accused to jump over, with failure resulting in incarceration” (Edelman, 2017).

The event that happened in this podcast that shows just how bad the system works was a 21 year old, African American male was convicted of killing two men. His name is Ricky Kidd, he had a rock solid alibi, multiple people said he did not do it, and Ricky said he knew who did it and told his public defender and the police but after all of that he was still convicted, serving four life sentences with no chance of parole. After spending 23 years in jail he was finally exonerated and let out of jail but still faces many challenges coming back into the public. Sadly events like theses ones aren’t isolated events there are tons of other people just like Ricky. For example Kaleif Browder who was locked up for three years awaiting trial for a crime he did not commit. Kaleif bail was set way to high for what he could afford and would not accept a plea deal for a crime he did not commit, while awaiting his trial he was abused by other inmates and guards and spend 2/3 years in solitary confinement and when he finally got out he tried to put his life back together but ended up committing suicide (Edelman, 2017).

I think others should listen to this broken justice podcast because you get to have a look into some people’s real lives and see the struggle that they are going through because I’m sure many other just like myself were not aware of these things going on and how bad is it. With such severe underfunding the indigent defense system needs help more of the attention that is brought up the more change that is going to happen. Just like the women who was cleaning herself up and found herself in over $11,000 in debt to the court system when wrote about in the New York Times Tulsa was embarrassed and dropped all charges (Edelman, 2017). Instead of making laws trying to hide and get rid of indigent people only making situations worse lawmakers should be trying to help them get back on there feet then many problems would be solved.


By: Rachel Garris




Broken Justice, Triage, 2020 NewHour Productions LLC.



Jaffe, S. (2017) Michigan Law Review Indigent defense article


The Crime Report. (2016). Court Fees Create ‘Endless Cycle of Debt’ for Poor



Edelman, P. (2017). Not a Crime to Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America. New York.

One Out of Five Lower-Class Schizophrenics

In the PBS documentary The Released by Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor, they follow five severely mentally ill men after they had been released from prison. In this case, severe mental illness was defined by requiring daily anti-psychotic medication to begin functioning in a stable way (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009). Following the deinstitutionalization of mental illness, those men are joined by over half of prisoners with serious mental illness to become a part of the largest exodus in our nation’s history. Nearly two-thirds of those prisoners were re-arrested in a little over a year, most for crimes that directly related to their mental illness (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009). This deinstitutionalization was meant to give them the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us, but failed to consider that one isn’t really free when struggling with mental health; a well-meaning policy, but it went too far.

After being released with only a bus ticket, seventy-five dollars, and two weeks’ worth of medication, these five men began to see how there was a better level of care while incarcerated than what they could receive in the community. Most were isolated from their support systems because of their past histories of violence, but this proved only to perpetuate further violence, as no one was there to guide these individuals in their transition back into their communities or even help them stay on their medications. After being re-incarcerated only 1 month following release, one of the men being documented said “I was going to stay on my meds. And they were working. So I got tired of taking them. I thought I was cured” (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009). This refers to the all too familiar “revolving door” concept, in which those with mental illness are too often incarcerated and stabilized, then set free unsupervised to ultimately stop taking their medication in the belief that they no longer need it (Edelman, 2017). This ends in mental relapse, increasing the likelihood of crime and re-incarceration. Proving this point, four of the five men followed in this documentary had been rearrested within the seven month filming period (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009).

This production went on to ask the questions, what happens to the mentally ill after they leave prison and why are they coming back at such shocking rates? Well to start, I said the revolving door concept was all too familiar because it is also a key function in the criminalization of the homeless population (Edelman, 2017). That vicious cycle is only different in its added priority of medication, to the already insurmountable need for stable housing and work that leave little income for necessities such as that medication. Some individuals may qualify for income support towards their treatment, but our society’s broken mental health system and impoverished social networks can take away these eligibilities once the individual has a criminal record (Edelman, 2017).

As we discussed in class, homelessness is one of the many destabilizing life events that can disproportionately affect subgroups like the mentally ill population, acting as a trigger to other problems like psychotic breaks. These breaks are commonly the result of experiencing trauma and violence, which we also know are highly correlated with homelessness (Edelman, 2017). Emergency shelters are set as somewhat effective solutions for the typical homeless population, but many are known to negatively target this subset of the low-income homeless population. The article discussed in class, Housing Not Handcuffs, explicitly describes how these institutions foster an unstable environment not fit for mental rehabilitation and can outright turn away those with documented severe mental illness. This leaves the mentally ill lower-class to join encampments, risking sweeps that could result in the loss of medications and irreplaceable mementos that are essential for mental stability (Middleton, 2014).

The lucky few offenders, one out of every fifty on average, get reentry programs to help them transition back into their community. Few homeless shelters even house the mentally ill, and even fewer help with their treatment (Middleton, 2014). Just one of the five men that this documentary followed had been one of those few, and he was the only left that had not been re-arrested by the time the filming period ended (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009). For obvious reason, I don’t believe that to have been a matter of coincidence.

The content presented in this documentary not only enhanced my knowledge about the mentally ill, but also solidified the belief that lower-income individuals are disproportionately affected by the cyclical nature of re-incarceration. I would recommend this media source to others that wish to see what is really waiting for lower-class ex-convicts on the other side. They would see that mental illness acts as a catalyst to both re-incarceration and homelessness, but not for lack of trying. Since this goes against the negative social blame we pin on those who struggle in ways we cannot understand, it is best to hear it from the five men themselves. But to sum up, every one of the five men had said they were “going to be gone and stay gone” from jails, and would be sure to take their medications to ensure that would happen (Navasky & O’Connor, 2009). Even so, what met them on the outside did next to nothing to facilitate true treatment; not financially, mentally, or socially within their communities. And so, whether they are lower-class individuals wrought with homelessness, lower-class individuals wrought with mental illness, or any variation and combination of the two, the released are inevitably lead to the damnation of repeated debt, re-incarceration, and relapse.


By Jenna Albitz



Edelman, P. B. (2017). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. New York: The New Press.

Middleton, M. K. (2014). Housing, Not Handcuffs: Homeless Misrecognition and “SafeGround Sacramentos” Homeless Activism. doi: 10.1111/cccr.12055

Navasky & O’Connor (2009, April 28). The Released. Retrieved February 14, 2020, from

The Reality of Poverty

The media source I chose to watch was a documentary called Line: Poverty in America. This documentary follows several hard-working individuals who fell below or are on the poverty line in America. The poverty line in America is classified as those who make only $23,000 a year. These individuals bring to light what it is like to have everything fall out beneath you and have to live without knowing if they are going to lose their home or where their next meal is coming from. The documentary also gives an inside to the violence within the lowest of low-income neighborhoods. This documentary shows the public that anyone can become a victim of poverty. It also explains the misconception the public has about those who do live in poverty.

The key points presented in this media source were that poverty isn’t just a homeless individual in the inner city. Poverty in America is a little section of a town or county that know one talks about. Those living above the poverty line do not go to that section because they see it as a violent place or rock bottom. The documentary pointed out that those who never grew up or fallen below the poverty do not want to help fix the problem or care. Another key point the documentary pointed out was the violence within the communities in these low-income neighborhoods. One individual explained that children that grew up in poverty do not expect a future and they don’t plan for a future. The reality is that a large portion of these children will either be killed or resort to criminal behaviors. The criminal behavior starts out as running drugs for the local gangs and gradually increases to more serious violent crimes.

Some of the discrimination and inequality shown toward the lower class is that society labels them as lazy, violent, alcoholics, drug abusers, etc. The reality is that those who fall below the poverty line are hard-working Americans who are two times more likely to lose sleep to work two low-income jobs. The one individual in the documentary talked about how her sister was walking to the store in a low-income neighborhood in which they lived and she was shot for no reason. The police only showed up one time and never did an investigation. This is an example of inequality that low-income neighborhoods face when crimes occur. They do not receive the same treatment from the police as those living in the upper- and middle-class neighborhoods.

We discussed in class what comes to mind when you think about poverty and homelessness. Most people said unemployed, living on the streets, no possessions, etc. This documentary expanded my knowledge on poverty, it opened my eyes to the reality that people who live in poverty are not just runaways or senior citizens, poverty can affect everyone. This documentary interviewed individuals who were living comfortable lives then just one day everything fell out beneath them. One man in the documentary found himself homeless because he moved to a different state and could not get a job because he had his previous job for 22 years and had no other skills. Another man had a good paying job at a company then one day he lost his job and could not get a new one so he relies on the food pantry in his neighborhood to provide food for his three children.

These stories relate to what we discussed in class about criminalizing homelessness. Society targets the homeless by making laws forbidding them from camping, sleeping, loitering, etc. on the streets. By displacing the homeless or arresting them it makes it harder for that individual to get a job because it shows that they had run-ins with the police. This media source suggests that individuals living in poverty need assistance in gaining training to be able to get a job. The problem is that those who don’t live in poverty or never experienced it often ch0ose to ignore it.

The content that was covered in this documentary helped me to understand more about living in poverty and dealing with violence, and how it’s a lot harder to get a job if you were born into or fell below the poverty line in America. While the documentary showed a few non-profit organizations that are helping the homeless get back on their feet, I believe there needs to be more training opportunities for individuals who can work. Most of the people who find themselves in poverty were fired or let go of their job and they only know how to do one job because they had been doing it for most of their life. I think its important for those who never experienced poverty or lived in a bad neighborhood that those who do live in poverty are not all lazy, inexperienced, or homeless but, they have families and they are able to hold a job if someone would give them a chance. I would recommend that everyone watch this documentary to better understand how poverty works and how society can help to fix the problems with homelessness and violence. If society begins to show support and provides communities living in poverty the programs they need, than children in the communities will see that they can have a future that doesn’t involve violent and criminal behavior.

By Allison Toth


Edelman, P. B. (2019). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. New York: The

New Press.