Skip to main content

tv   After Words Peter Edelman Not a Crime to Be Poor  CSPAN  January 21, 2018 12:04pm-1:00pm EST

12:04 pm
tour on twitter or behind the scenes images and video from our visit. >> c-span, where history unfolded daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service i america's cable-television companies and is brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> up next on "after words", former clinton administration official and georgetown law professor peter edelman argues that courts are exploiting by charging sissified and fees for minor crimes. he is in use by georgia congressman hank johnson. congressman johnson serves on the judiciary committee and is a member of the out of poverty caucus. "after words" is a weekly interview program with the relevant guests host anything top nonfiction authors about their latest work.
12:05 pm
>> host: a pleasure to be with you today to discuss your book "not a crime to be poor": the criminalization of poverty in america." >> guest: thank you, congressman. i'm very, very glad to be here. >> host: i hope i'm not embarrassing you, but i know you've got an 80th birthday coming up. you don't look 80. >> guest: thank you for that trend what i just want to let you know happy birthday in advance. >> guest: thank you very much. not until january though. i'm still a young one. >> host: you've done a lot in your life, and 80 years is a long time. growing up as a jewish kid in minneapolis minnesota, what was it like for you as you grew up? >> guest: we were a good stalwart democratic farmer labor family.
12:06 pm
i grew up with hubert humphrey as the mayor here and my father who was a lawyer in minneapolis was also active politically a little bit. when that was a mayors conflict, human relation, hubert humphrey created, my father was on that and that was kind of a model for me to watch and be involved in civic activity. my mother played the piano beautifully, and so i grew up in a comfortable way, but i think understanding having some values that were about fairness, about justice, about not having discrimination, and i think i took that into adulthood. >> host: what kind of lawyer was your dad? >> guest: a good one.
12:07 pm
he was known in minneapolis as the go to lawyer for the really complicated cases and the complex things. that's what he did. he was a trial lawyer but on this complicated things. >> host: civil cases try to civil cases what is also doing pro bono civil rights. where he represented plaintiffs who wanted the fire department to hire african american people. they had that done that before. he was a lawyer. so that was all part of who he was. >> host: you became a lawyer yourself. you followed in his footsteps. >> guest: yes, i certainly did in terms of the values, and i had kind of the idea that if i was to, what should i say, do
12:08 pm
something that my father had not done, i thought maybe if i went to new york that would be different. that was not a very deep thought. >> host: you went away to college. where did you go to college? >> guest: i went to harvard and i went to harvard law school, yes. >> host: you decided to go to new york. i guess that's what a lot of the harvard trained lawyers were going. >> guest: yes. actually i clerked for a judge on the second circuit, henry friendly. i did join the new york bar but, in fact, they didn't initially. or not, i once took a job on wall street a couple years later on. i never showed up. because what happened was that i
12:09 pm
had the wonderful opportunity to click on the supreme court with justice arthur goldberg, and led me to the justice department when robert unity was the attorney general. so for three months i was in the kennedy administration, then president kennedy was murdered. but that was the real change in my life, getting to know, being in the same place, not knowing him yet, robert kennedy. and then when he ran for the senate, that job on the law firm i thought well, maybe i could do something in politics before i started with that. and when the campaign was over, then senator, senator-elect robert kennedy asked me to go to work for him. so that was a big, big change in my life. >> host: that was 1964, and you signed on to work on the campaign for senator kennedy? >> yes. attorney general then, yes.
12:10 pm
i did things that you do if you're the kind of lowest person on the list. but he did offer me a job after the campaign and that was, so, therefore, i was on the senatorial staff in washington. >> host: legislative work, policies which you did back then. what were some of the initiatives that you all worked on as you were a part of that legislative shop of senator kennedy? >> guest: in a big state like new york and a very small staff, to begin with there were just the two of us have been a couple of the people came along as time passed. so the answer to the question in one way is a disease, agriculture to zebras. -- a tizzy. i learned a lot about the dairy and milk because there's a lot
12:11 pm
of that in new york. that the heart as you know, the heart of his interest on the domestic side was race and poverty, poverty and race. he cared about nuclear proliferation. he cared about international foreign aid, and he of course is same as for the trip that he took to south africa. but the day-to-day work had a buried disparate emphasis. i worked with him in 1965. i worked within on the initiative in brooklyn which was a new kind of an initiative to help low income people in that part of brooklyn essentially to pull themselves up but with
12:12 pm
funding that would come from corporations, but more than that, from the government. it was a whole series of things. as time went on, the work i i d was heavily on poverty and race, and so i had the opportunity to go with him with cesar chavez in 1996, going down to mississippi in 1967 1967 which is where i y wife marion. but in the context of the terrible situation of massive malnutrition in mississippi in 1967, because the plantation owners were pushing people off the plantations. didn't need them anymore because there were new, picking the cotton and all that, and the families were just pushed off the plantations and had nowhere
12:13 pm
to go and there was this enormous hunger. those were all things that we did. i went to indian reservations with him, and it was an amazing education for me, and learning from robert kennedy, but much of it we were sitting together. things that we did. he always, whatever it was, something came out where he added another thing to the list. met caesar schiavo as for the rest of the time we were there -- cesar chavez the rest of the time were there, that was one of my jobs was pre-the person to go to in the senate and the staff about the farmworkers. when there were issues about hunger, then it was a staff person to work with the senator on doing something about it because of the terrible things that we saw, their children who had the swollen bellies and the
12:14 pm
sores on their arms that wouldn't heal. so always, always following up. >> host: so it was during those years working for senator kennedy, 64 to 68, that gave you the mission that you've carried on for the last 50 years of dealing with issues of social justice and poverty? >> guest: yes. we have to put in there my wife. well, i mean, in terms of her of what she did on your own. but i really, when robert kennedy died, i didn't really want, probably never wanted really, except for a very short time after i graduated, i wasn't
12:15 pm
interested in private practice. i had it become kind of a a poy person, if anything, but the most important thing was that i felt like i should do whatever i could to keep on with the things that robert kennedy was doing. it was it may be at the beginning, but yes, that is the definition. >> host: you've lived through jim crow, president roosevelt new deal. you lived through brown v. board of education in desegregation, president john kennedys short-lived new frontier, lbj's great society. now we're into, or you've also been through the amend welfare to make it, to change welfare to
12:16 pm
such a degree as we don't know it anymore. change welfare as we know it i think was the moniker, you've been through that. we are in this jim crow, "the new jim crow" era, as michelle alexander puts it. so you seem a lot during your 80 years. have you seen a pot that has changed for the better, and have you seen anything change for the worse? >> guest: yes, and yes. and i do find it remarkable, since my two legs to work in my brain does work on some days, yes, i certainly was alive during franklin roosevelt. in many ways, in reading about the progressive era and the things that were done there, as since that we have the capacity
12:17 pm
for change. and, of course, i think we very definitely saw it, and i was a young adult then, during the 1960s. so anybody who says that their despairing, this this is a time when people to despair, we need to remember that change is very possible and, in fact, what we see from the historical record is that we can do it if we organize come if we get together, , if we push back and push forward. him the 1960s, of course there s a piece of that history that's the context for what we've accomplished in issues of race and poverty. because after world war ii, we were the only economic power in
12:18 pm
the world. and so trade was ours to have with the japanese and german economies were destroyed, and so we had a terrific, there were some bad years, that was the context into which of the civil rights movement went. and then the movement itself is of course crucial. the young people, the people who came back, mostly men who came back, african-americans from the war and found that segregation was not only their, it was worse for some people who simply couldn't take the fact that there was a black man who had come back and was essentially not playing the old game, or seeming to play the old game.
12:19 pm
much of what happened in the \60{l1}s{l0}\'60{l1}s{l0} was because there was a movement, and then there was, particularly president johnson who was responsive to that and knowing how to work the congress to get the 65 act. but it's also true the same time, if you look on the poverty side of it, poverty in the united states in 1959 was 22%, and african-american poverty was 55% in 1959. and by 1973 the overall number on poverty had gone down to 11%, and the number for the african-american community was 32%. so what happened during that time? because anybody says we can't make progress on these things, it is just wrong.
12:20 pm
>> host: it was the great society programs that were responsible for reducing poverty in the country in such a very short period of time, would you agree? >> guest: i think that's part of it. i think actually the civil rights movement has a part of it because him him there were pary in large cities in levels of government there was hiring of african-americans and even in the private economies. that's a big part of it. when i tell you that number about 55% down to 32%, that's the accident. that's because the movement and the time together of the movement with title vii in the 1964 act. it's bigger than the great, of course, title vii is part of the great society, absolute right about that, but it's the totality of things that come together. in the context of the jobs,
12:21 pm
people getting jobs, people of color getting jobs in the auto plants and in steel plants, men, some women, but men who are not going to high school became part of the middle class. their kids got to go to college. that'll happen in that time, and then in terms of what then happened of course is the industrialization that begins in the 1970s and makes it much, much harder. >> host: so the '60s ushered in a period of social change, social justice, doing away with jim crow laws, the installation of laws that provided for jobs, good paying jobs that could not
12:22 pm
be relegated only to white people but black people had the right to get these jobs, or a two at least file lawsuits in court to address any discrimination, and lots of litigation took place to hire black folks, to break barriers to employment. and, of course, these benefits, good jobs, high-paying jobs, blue-collar jobs that white folks, white men in particular, had worked for decades continue to live on, but then after the great society, after lyndon johnson decided not to run, hubert humphrey ran and lost,
12:23 pm
then came the period of richard nixon and the republicans, and also the fact that the democratic party lost a number of people who were its supporters. because of the civil rights act and the voting rights act. can you comment on how things started to turn once richard nixon took office? >> guest: it certainly is a change. as you were in a meeting, that southern strategy and nixon saw, and the people who were doing his politics with them, saw that having lyndon johnson himself had said in terms of what would happen to the democratic party in the south, meaning that's what nixon was pursuing.
12:24 pm
there are two things that happened along with that. clearly, one part of it is to get that white people who at least organized in the senate as democrats, even if they didn't believe in the things that humphrey or other liberals did, but when they turned to being republicans, then they are also voting for the leadership. they are in the majority after a while. but there are two other things that are very, very important in the conversation. one is mass incarceration and the other is what i call the 30 year war on welfare. that started in. because what they saw that they needed to do was to have signals that they would send to the white voters to say we are still the good old boys here,
12:25 pm
codewords, and so one starts in the '70s as we know with a resting a lot more people, locking up a lot more people. there's a degree of crime, but the response is much more extended and worse than that. and it's politics to work for them. as far as that was for the men basically, and then for women they started telling the story that these are all people who are lazy and dependent, just giving them money makes it not want to work and that whole story. and i say that particularly the difference between, or adding on but not necessarily all done in a cooperative way because nixon
12:26 pm
himself tries to do welfare reform. we've got remember this though, where he proposed quite seriously a guaranteed annual income. it finally wasn't enacted and that's a a long story in and of itself. it's partly nixon. it's partly very much the changes in the economic structure that's taking away the and social jobs, and it's these things that are created, mass incarceration and the attack on welfare, as part of a political strategy. >> host: so things, codewords like law and order began to gain significance, and codewords really used in that 68 election, john mitchell, attorney general. so at that time there was no war
12:27 pm
on drugs, but the war on drugs was declared back in, i believe, 1971 by richard nixon. how has that impacted this issue of mass incarceration? >> guest: it's very much a part of it. the numbers of people who, particularly people who get sent to prison for possession. if you are putting away all the dealers, you wouldn't fill up all the prisons. but if you put people, of course this is states who do this as well, isn't just federal law, that's a significant part of it. everything that happens, you have to sort of look at the
12:28 pm
situation. very interesting book by james forman about how mass incarceration started in d.c., and it was, there was a great deal of drugs, crack cocaine in particular, and it was bad. after that there was violence there. in both cases it was appropriate to do something, and if you look at it, what happens though, and this is kind of a story for the whole country, it's overdone. they have a problem that needed to be looked at and acted on, but -- >> host: criminal justice issue. >> guest: the sentences are crazy. and at the part about d.c. which tells you the complexity of
12:29 pm
this, this is largely around the country a racial thing. but in d.c., the leaders who are making these tougher laws were all african-american. it gets to be, if you kind of look at the whole thing, the politics, you have it and largely black community, you have political leaders who are just as strong and they had something to it, but they overdo it. >> host: well, was poverty and issue in terms of the war on drugs, or the victims of the war on drugs? how did poverty play into that? no man around? >> guest: what happens to families, what happens to the men who been locked up and all
12:30 pm
the collateral consequences so they can't get jobs. they are not allowed to live in public housing. 45,000 laws across the country,, collateral consequences of one kind or another, it destroys somebody's life. if they were not poor when they went into prison, they are definitely poverty-stricken for the rest of their lives. it's totally connected to poverty. what's really amazing on the argument about the public policies, having worked in relation to poverty, because we always hear from paul ryan, you know, we know who the speaker is, talking about how nothing works. so we got to change everything that makes block grants and terrible ideas, just cut budgets the relay to poor people. it should be understood that the public policies that we have,
12:31 pm
social security, but also food stamps, snap now, and earned income tax credit and the child tax credit and housing vouchers and many more things, we would have twice as many people in poverty now as we have. instead of the 43 million people who are now called poverty the way we measure poverty, it would be more like 90 million people. so we've had public policy that was constructed that made a difference, that in an economy that had now so many low-wage jobs that people couldn't make ends meet, we had public policy that was helping them and adding to the income through this period of time. so even with mass incarceration, which is a tremendous tremendous
12:32 pm
hit on people can't even so we are public policy that was working to this day and we need to get people to understand that. >> host: well, we've been dis- investing in government, providing opportunity for people through various programs that basically stem from the great society. we've been dismantling it. great society took place over maybe a period of eight years, or the new frontier and the great society over a period of eight years, and since then it's been disassembling of -- trench i think it's a lot more that, because actually the nixon time, the big headline about nixon we only talked about, which is the southern strategy, no question about that. that's bad. >> host: i guess we have to give them credit where credit is due. >> guest: not too much. but yes.
12:33 pm
it's a democratic congress and in that time that we get food stamps, although nixon sends the message to the congress to have that done. housing vouchers we get. l grants we get that. indexing social security for inflation, ssi supplemental social security for people with disabilities and elderly poor. those are altering bendixen. and those are all comps on the major things that are in what i said before about the re-choice as many for if we did have those things. the disinvesting i think there are, for get to thing which is jobs, when we have a third of our population, over 100 million people who have incomes below twice the 200%, twice the poverty level, which is very low, and where we have the deep
12:34 pm
poverty that we have now where we have 20 million people according to the way we count poverty that have incomes below half the poverty line. that's because of what was done to cash assistance, to welfare. that is a definite, absolute, especially for people at the very, very bottom. but the other thing is that we've never really stood up to the question of what are we going to do about having decent jobs for everybody in this country? to me that's the big question about income, about poverty, and really related to race as well. >> host: well, speaking of things getting better, you have a book here, "not a crime to be poor": the criminalization of poverty in america." so as we have dis- invested in
12:35 pm
the programs that provided a social safety net that kept people from falling through the cracks, we've got more people falling through the cracks now, and you've written a book on how poverty and the criminal justice system interface. most of us when we think about the criminal justice system, we think about people charged and/or convicted of serious offenses, murder, armed robbery, drug dealing, you know, rape, that kind of thing. and your book takes a little different twist on this issue of criminal justice. and so tell us, wasn't that motivated you to write this
12:36 pm
book, "not a crime to be poor": the criminalization of poverty in america," what was it that prompted you to write that book at this time? >> guest: i think i could say it in a word, which is ferguson. all of the things we've been talking about so far, but those relate to what i've done one way or another, about poverty. and over that period of time, i never think about, i didn't know about all these ways that we are now criminalizing poverty, and much of that has been going on for two or more decades. so ferguson, michael brown is killed, that's horrible. we see that in other communities, african-american men an armed killed by police officers here but there was a second story, another story about ferguson, which was we
12:37 pm
found out that they were running this awful system basically to get revenue for the city, but it's majority african-american town, another question why they didn't vote out the white people, but never mind. that's a separate question. in any case, they were just arresting everybody all the time, and they had quotas of how much they had to make and they would arrest somebody for having not mowing their lawnmower, things like that. >> host: quality of life. >> guest: one way or another.
12:38 pm
but a lot of them were made up. there is that kind of broken windows idea that somehow you're going to clean up but it's really about making money. of course you have the department of justice makes a terrific report about that. somewhere in there a gets into my head that there's a story about all of that. >> host: so what was going on in ferguson particularly, or specifically, that prompted you to write this book? >> guest: it isn't that it's ferguson per se itself. it's about beginning to be more cognizant to reading the papers on the subject. you have a bad back, you know you have a lot of friends have bad back. so my consciousness comes up. turns out the "new york times" and others had been actually
12:39 pm
reporting on this. but it's a story here, a story there. you kind of have to be sensitive to it. >> host: it's a story where police officers are stopping motorists driving through small towns and finding the least offense, the least little small offense to charge them with. how does it work? >> guest: so the book starts with a neighbor of yours in bainbridge, georgia -- >> host: 230 miles from atlanta, way down the road south of georgia. >> guest: but compared to me you are right next door. so she rolls through a stop sign. we all do that, sometimes.
12:40 pm
>> host: i think all drivers have done that on more than one occasion. >> guest: so they haul her in and the judge says you are guilty of this. there's not even a question of asking her if she's guilty. she is told she owes i think $127, and she says i don't have that. and this is the story that is told over and over again. turns out all over the country, many, many parts of the country, and want to get to rikers island and money bill because it's different and an even bigger problem. but, so the judge says to her, go in that room there and there's a woman in their she sees, and the woman is, she finds a way to come is a so-called probation person. well, that person, there's not going to be any real probation.
12:41 pm
it's totally bogus, just with making money. in georgia as you know there's a lot, in fact, the biggest one in the country terms of for-profit, probation, taking $100 million. >> host: private or for-profit company, , the county for the cy has outsourced to do the probation, so-called probation. >> guest: i should say around the country there are plenty of regular public probation agencies that do the same thing. because they charge people, it's just amazing and much they chae people for everything. they charge people in state after state for living in the prison, for the eating and staying on the mattress. there are 10 million people owing $50 billion, two-thirds of people who have come out from
12:42 pm
prison or jail oh something. it's become -- >> host: still have paid their debt to society. >> guest: yeah. and many, many cases they never can. >> host: so with fines that may be excessive to begin with, surcharges on the fines. >> guest: so the person can't pay on a payment plan. in many instances, a person doesn't exactly know what to do so they're out on the street and there's a bench warrant and they get arrested. again, now it's criminal content. new charge. and so more money that is owed less interest rates and continuing money, probation. and for every test they're going to take, they might be told to take a drug test when fact they never had any problem of drug abuse at all. >> host: but it's the
12:43 pm
stipulation on the probation that you don't do any alcohol or drugs and you're subjected to random alcohol and drug screening. >> guest: yes, , what you have to pay for. which is all just a made-up thing to make money. >> host: so the fines, surcharges are levied in accordance with the state law, and in the probation, supervision fee, and then the drug and alcohol screening that you have to do. >> guest: so she gets out the day because she talks back to the woman in the place, and the woman is saying if you don't pay i'm going to take it back to the judge and you will go to jail. she said, i'm not signing your paper, which i guess was a probation paper. so the woman says, sign for 50 bucks and a ledge at this time. so were the -- her fiancé is a
12:44 pm
bit this time and hawkes along wishing to have and to get out that day. she gets on, google, and she finds the southern center for human rights who comes and defends her and gets her out of a mess which by the way spent unconstitutional, what had been done to her. there's a case that came out of georgia, in fact, bearden versus georgia. >> host: you can't lock a person up just simply because they could not pay the fine try to correct, absolute. most people don't have a lawyer. it doesn't matter that with something called gideon because you go rent this country particularly in small towns and they are not there or they might be there on a contract that's
12:45 pm
made by the judge within an they are more low to the judge then they are to the defendant. this is routine. so what that shows us is something that exists all over the country. i mean that every state, not every part of the state but i know enough about it because lawyers come there's a lot of that going on we don't even know because there's no lawyer there. benton county, washington, who knew? same thing as a threat i just told you, and the aclu heard about it and came and fought back. when they're able to stop it get so much of what they do is unconstitutional, they not only get the person off but they make the county change or if its state but it's the county, change their whole policy as a result of handling that particular case. now, the bigger thing about the
12:46 pm
fines and fees is actually not these made-up things, or these very low kind of violations. that's real and there. the bigger thing is drivers license suspension. more than half of these low violations or whatever they are relates to that. not necessary something to do driving their car by the way. they use for a variety of things. >> host: disorderly conduct, urinating in public. >> guest: all of that. >> host: loitering. >> guest: that's right. some states, if they have drivers license because something like that, that's absolutely right. whether or not the particular state, take california which doesn't put people in jail for doing these things, but what it does do is it garnishes the wages. it takes the tax refund.
12:47 pm
it uses bill collectors to go after these people. in california they have taken 4 million drivers licenses away from people. it goes around the country, well over a million in texas and in florida and in north carolina, almost a million in virginia. so it's a very, very big thing. they hook people exactly the same way that, although different way. the differences you need your car. and so you go out there because you got to get to work. you got to take the kids to the doctor, whatever it is, and then you get arrested again and then you get another sentence on you. you owe more money and it just goes on and on and on. one of the things that's so important here in this conversation and in the world on this is people are fighting back. there was sarah in georgia, and
12:48 pm
there are similar people around. i could name easily a a dozen people i know about, and there are lots lots more. and there are people who are in leadership now who are fighting back. there are chief justices in the states who ten, c15 ago were agreeing with the idea that they needed the money. and by the way, why did the money be needed in the first place? i should have said more, , but u can see in two weeks come into words, grover norquist. >> host: no new tax pledge. >> guest: that is correct picks of the whole thing starts with the anti-tax tax rebellion. they creates create a bot of ao didn't get caught in the same thing. >> host: a lot of municipal governments, county governments
12:49 pm
derive a lot of revenue from locking up people who can't pay, forcing them to do everything they can to get some money to pay down on their debt, they're fine. and then releasing them to go back out into the streets, but at that point they may not have drivers license to be able to get to and from work, and it's just a cycle that in traps people in poverty. >> guest: absolutely so. i have a book, a story in here about a guy named jefferson from l.a. who was an over the road truck driver, and he was convicted of something that related to his driving and he took it away. of course he lost his job, then he lost his wife in the new lost
12:50 pm
his house and he was homeless. then the state finally started working in the right direction, particularly robert hertzberg in the state senate but also outside people like from the western senator law and poverty. they did an embassy and they did other kinds of things to reduce the problem. mr. jefferson cut his drivers license back after all the horrible as he went through and now he's driving a a truck aga, so that particular thing had a good result because, in this case not a lawyer in the particular case by going to the legislature and getting change. >> host: you've talked about this issue also of money bail or cash bail systems. can you elaborate on that for us? >> guest: yes. in the cycle republic talked about, money bail takes apart,
12:51 pm
because a lot of times, but it's a much bigger part, the person is arrested, is put in jail for some very minor thing that the arlette alleged to have done. they don't have the money to pay the bail. sometimes it's as small as $5000 or $1000 but they don't have that. the family doesn't have it. the person in south pleading they are guilty just to get out of there. and as it is they may be in there long enough waiting so they lost their job and other things, other bad things may have been done, but then they have to pay the money that they don't even understand the collateral consequences. which are huge. so that's a key part even though
12:52 pm
the fines and fees. but look at rikers, for example. first of all, know that 700,000 people per day are in jail. not present, jail. but rikers in new york city, rikers island, three out of five people who were in there on any given day have not yet been found guilty of anything. that's because of money bail. so it's a massive thing the number of people who are hurt in so many ways. especially the whole system depends on not having trials because they don't have the person power to do it. >> host: so you have, it's like a final and jump a lot of people coming into the system,
12:53 pm
but down at the final they are not being ejected from the system so they just end up being in jail. >> guest: yes. if you want to get out a have to plead that their guilty. >> host: so is there some monetary angle that, to the process? are theirs and entities that are making money off of all these people who are lodged in jail awaiting trial? >> guest: the bails bondsman. but not just bails bondsman. who writes the bonds? insurance companies, other kinds of companies, finance companies. so there's a significant lobby that protects money bail. the reform of bail started in the 1960s and robert canute was involved in that as attorney general. it was actually moving pretty well until mass incarceration
12:54 pm
came along and that created the kind of attitudes in the community and resulted in the political power of bail bondsman. we have that to this day. we are also finally in this area and in some of these others, and i keep want to just emphasize that people are fighting back. two things. one is there are lawsuits now that are succeeding that say that money bill is unconstitutional because it divides with a bright line people who convey and people who can't. the biggest thing we've seen so far is a case in houston, third-largest, harris county, third-largest jurisdiction in the country, a federal judge rosenthal called a limited injunction that it's unconstitutional. it happens that the way they do
12:55 pm
their bail stuff in harris county is they don't bring into the courthouse. they lead them and they do it by skype. there's a recording of everyone of these encounters, and there are judges who are right there shown on film who have done the most gross kind of treating of people. 193 page opinion, page opinion, a lot of these awful stories. there's a clear constitutional argument there, and we are of the cases that are following after that, the county illinois, france and cisco -- san francisco and other places in the country. we have states that are doing bail reform. we've done it a couple years ago in kentucky and most recently in maryland and also partial in new jersey. there are people doing, lawyers
12:56 pm
working, for example, in new york where they're pushing much harder, of course this is a pretty sophisticated brooklyn defenders, to get, to advocate to get the judge to see that it makes more sense to let them out on recognizance. >> host: there's an entire industry, we call it the prison industrial complex, that feasts on people who are trapped in jail and can't get out. they have to make phone calls to the people back home trying to get out. so those phone calls go through a private service, charging the people in their $1.50 $1.50 a e or whatever the cost might be. those firms are making money in addition to their probation, the private probation companies, the
12:57 pm
medical care that's given at the jails. >> guest: generally not only for profit but horrible, horrible care. i talk about one case, one of the largest profits, they been sued all over the place by the horrible things that they have done or not done. >> host: but they are still in these jails rendering care. >> guest: and the jails of course all the mental health places of the 21st century. >> host: so we have the vested from our mental health -- divested -- mental health structure and let those people to fall into the clutches of the criminal justice system. >> guest: yes. a man named darren raney, terrible story, and there are many such stories, summary as the last of whether anybody ever sues, and the fact is that rikers and the other of these jails have paid very, very, very
12:58 pm
large settlements when they had been hurt or killed. darren rainey was in the mental health place in miami, and, i mean, terrible, awful story. the correctional officers created of thing in the shower where they could run scalding water through there, and they took, darren rainey had, not, he defecated on the floor and you wouldn't cleaned it up so they took him in there and they scolded him to death. we only know that because there was a reporter from the miami herald who dug into it and found out what happened. she won a robert kennedy award for doing that. but how could there be that kind
12:59 pm
of treatment of people? but, so that's, and there are other horrible stories. >> host: well, we have come a long way in society, but we still have a long way to go. that's pretty clear. ultimately, what is it that you want readers of this book, "not a crime to be poor": the criminalization of poverty in america" what is it that you would like for readers to take away after they had read that book? >> guest: well, number one, how big these problems are. the book also goes into the fact that we sentence kids from school to jail to courts now instead of just -- >> and you can watch the last few minutes of this program by going to and searching for the author or edelman. we will go live to the floor of the senate for


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on