What Is Crime and Punishment…

Crime and Punishment is a newsletter for all those who want to better understand how our system is “rigged” against the poor, working class and middle class and in favor of the mostly white and wealthy. Not “tinfoil hat rigged”, but purposefully and logically rigged through our laws and culture. Crime and Punishment is also for those who want to more clearly understand the current intersection among economic, racial and environmental issues, and how this overlap causes injustice and inequality for so many. And most importantly, this newsletter is for those who want to help change our system just enough so every American can thrive.

I practiced environmental law for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for nearly fifteen years, and it was a cause for me, not just a job. I began to learn then, that the causes of economic, racial and environmental injustice overlap, as do their probable solutions. Together we can learn to lay fertile ground for real economic, racial and environmental justice.

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I chose the title, “Crime and Punishment: Why the Poor Stay Poor in America” because in the last decade or so, I have navigated in and out of poverty myself, and have learned first-hand that both our laws and culture treat poverty and even economic insecurity as a crime, for which we are constantly reminded and punished. I plan to vividly illustrate our country’s “crime and punishment” culture through the lens of our laws, demonstrate how this structure directly impacts you (whether you meet the poverty threshold, teeter on the brink or are comfortably wealthy), and figure out how we can collectively upend this destructive pattern. I hope you’ll join us on our journey to better understand our system and then change it to benefit all, not just the few. To benefit “the common good”.

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Do you care about poverty in the U.S., the growing gap between the ultra wealthy and everyone else, the disintegration of the middle-class? Help us learn why this has happened, and what we can collectively do to create a more fair and just system.

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How Our Laws and Culture Create a Cycle of Economic, Racial and Environmental Inequality...and What We Can Do To Change It.


Joan DeMartin

Freelance writer, educator (writing tutor & former college English instructor), and still recovering from practicing environmental law for nearly 15 years.