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Innocent Until Proven Poor

Michigan Journal of Race & Law
to Host Symposium on Criminalization of Poverty Feb. 19-20

A two-day symposium focusing on the relationship between poverty and the criminal justice system is being hosted by the Michigan Journal of Race & Law on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20.

"Innocent Until Proven Poor: Fighting the Criminalization of Poverty," to be held in South Hall, brings together practitioners and scholars, including Michigan Law professors, to discuss strategies for fighting back against some of the most blatant abuses of the poor, including aggressive policing of poor neighborhoods, prosecutorial discretion, legal categorization of crimes, debtors' prisons, excessive bail, civil asset forfeiture, court fees and fines, and the collateral consequences of such practices.

Day one of the symposium will feature a keynote address by Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. A longtime civil rights lawyer, Gupta previously served as deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and director of its Center for Justice.

Following Gupta's talk, there will be two panel discussions—one on policing and regulating the poor and another on jailing the poor—and several breakout sessions addressing the criminalization of poverty in Michigan as well as the criminalization of neglected and abused youth, movement lawyering, and profiting off the poor.

Day two of the symposium will feature workshops aimed at engaging attendees in discussions around such topics as efforts to reduce jail incarceration and criminal justice racial disparities, combatting modern-day debtors' prisons, and the role of public defenders in fighting the criminalization of poverty.

For full program information and to register, visit the symposium website.

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