When someone finishes a prison sentence, we often say they’ve “paid their debt to society.” But financial debt doesn’t stop chasing us if we find ourselves interacting with the criminal justice system. People charged with crimes who can’t make bail can find themselves in jail awaiting trial for weeks and months, unable to work. Or they may need to take out costly bail bonds so they can get out of jail and continue to support themselves and their families. And it’s no secret that Black and other people of color are much more likely to have encounters with law enforcement that result in arrests, fines, and fees. A bad interaction with the police on someone’s worst day can spiral into years of debt.
The complications listed only scratch the surface of what can be understood as carceral debt. Joining Maurice this episode to discuss the many debt traps and spirals embedded in the American carceral system is Dr. Richelle Brooks, the carceral debt organizer with the Debt Collective.
Citations and resources mentioned this episode:
- Brennan Center Study
- Bail Debt Dispute Tool from The Debt Collective
- Police Abolition 101
- We Do This Till We Free Us – book by Mariame Kaba
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