Poverty. Penalty. Repeat.
Breaking the cycle of poverty is hard. I’m starting to understand just how hard it can be by examining some of the systemic challenges. One example is how expensive it is for someone to get out of jail. Once someone is released from incarceration, they leave with a bill. What’s worse is many times the amount that is owed is about the same as the average first year salary. So, if you are lucky enough to get hired, most or all of those wages can get held to pay back your bill of prison expenses.
“Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights says formerly incarcerated people have an average fee debt fine of $13,607—nearly the same amount of the survey respondents annual income.”
However, San Francisco and other cities are working hard to make some changes. At the very least, people in jail will no longer have to pay for the phone calls they make to their family members.