Black News

Being Poor in America is Officially a Crime: 1 Day Late on Rent Can Land You in Jail

by Yvette Carnell

If you are behind on your rent in Arkansas, then your landlord can go to court and get a warrant issued for your arrest. This is part of Prison Blacksan ongoing trend intended to criminalize being poor in America, thus strengthening the poverty trap.

Alternet recently reported on an incident where a couple one month behind on rent were dragged from their home by police officers:

One evening this past August, Angela and Steve received a knock on the door. The couple opened it to see two police officers standing outside.

“One of them said, ‘We have a warrant for y’all’s arrest. … The next thing I remember is my husband dragging me from the kitchen. I had fainted,” Angela recalled, according to Human Rights Watch.

Their crime? The couple was unable to afford their $585 rent payment that month.

And this is not an isolated incident. In July of this past year, the New York Times reported about people who were being locked up for minor probation offenses if they could not afford to  pay the fee, and how private probation companies were making millions off this arrangement. One woman mentioned in the Times story, Ms. Ray, had been locked up for 40 days and had accrued $3, 170 in fees, all assessed by a private probation company. Ms. Ray’s offense was driving without a license.

Also, Salon   recently followed up with another report on how people who cannot pay fines for minor traffic violations are being jailed.

Immigrants  have always wanted to come to America because climbing out of poverty, although never a certainly, has always been a possibility in this country. But now, with school pipelines to prison and imprisonment as punishment for minor infractions, such as traffic violations and late rent payments, lawmakers and administrators are designing a system which ensures that fewer people are able to escape the poverty trap. If this weren’t all happening at once, I’d call it a coincidence, but this isn’t happenstance.  Can’t be. This is a concerted effort to stymie the upward flow of the American Horde.

More and more, America’s class designations and arrangements are being made to look like that of a third world country. I don’t know what that means for the future, not exactly, but I think it’s safe to say that this grand American Experiment is officially over.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Yourblackworld. You can reach Yvette via Twitter @YvetteDC or on Facebook.



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