Tag Archives: poor people

Court fines and fees: Another barrier to North Carolina’s ballot box

How much money do you have to pay before you cast your ballot on Election Day?

Image result for court fees
Image: myfloridalaw.com

For most North Carolinians, the answer might seem obvious: none. As the cornerstone of our democracy, voting is supposed to be fair, accessible – and free. But for an increasing number of North Carolinians, the right to vote can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

How is that possible? The answer is because North Carolina denies the right to vote to people who have felony convictions but cannot afford to pay their court costs, even if they have satisfied all other probation requirements.

Thanks to an ever-growing system of mandatory fines and fees, those caught up in the criminal justice system can be forced to pay anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars a month for the cost of their court administration, jail fees, probation, electronic monitoring, drug testing, even community service – and more. If they are unable to pay, they face a penalty fee for nonpayment, increasing their fees and lengthening their probation period.

These costs have increased substantially over time. In 1999, the base cost a person would pay for a superior court date was $106. Today the base cost is $198 with the potential to grow to more than $10,000 in serious cases as additional penalties snowball. Even if they have served all the terms of their sentence, even if they have had no probation violations, low-income people often remain on probation simply because they are low-income. And in far too many North Carolina courts, judges will not conduct hearings on a person’s inability to pay, as is required by law.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Obama, conceding no fault, struggles to explain Trump’s rise

President Barack Obama pointed Tuesday to fears of globalization, economic uncertainty, suspicion of elites — anything but his own performance — as he grasped for ways to explain the unexpected rise of Donald Trump.

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Image: Reuters

Opening his final overseas trip as president, Obama acknowledged he was surprised by Trump’s victory — and said it stemmed from deep-seated anxieties among working-class Americans that government must do better to address. But, he added paradoxically: “That’s been my agenda for the last eight years.”

“People seem to think I did a pretty good job,” Obama told reporters, citing his strong approval numbers. “So there is this mismatch, I think, between frustration and anger.”

Obama’s diagnosis of what went wrong for Hillary Clinton and Democrats offered little in the way of a road map for Democrats to avoid a similar fate in future elections. Democrats reeling from their resounding defeat last week are divided about what went wrong and even more divided about how to fix it.

In a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Obama said his proposals on jobs, education and infrastructure would have helped the same voters whose frustration drove Trump’s success at the polls — if only they’d been implemented.

“The problem was I couldn’t convince the Republican Congress to pass a lot of them,” Obama said.

It was also the clearest sign yet that the president did not accept Trump’s election as a repudiation of his policies, despite Trump’s ardent rejection of nearly every piece of Obama’s legacy.

Obama’s words are being watched closely by world leaders who see parallels between Trump’s election and the rise of far-right movements in their own countries amid continued economic anxiety. After Athens, Obama planned visits to Germany and Peru.

Obama’s visit sparked large protests in central Athens, prompting riot police to use tear gas and stun grenades to disperse about 3,000 left-wing marchers after they tried to enter an area declared off-limits to demonstrators. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Obama seemed skeptical that “the new prescriptions being offered” would satisfy voters’ restlessness.

At home, Obama’s party is split as it tries to come to terms with Trump’s win. Some Democrats are pushing for an immediate and concerted effort to block Trump at all costs, while others want an internal shakeup and new direction aimed at winning back support among working-class voters.

More from Tampa Bay Times

Posted by Libergirl

 

Yep, Medicaid expansion is working, where it’s allowed

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Protestors carry signs as they demonstrate against proposed cuts to Medical and Medicare outside San Francisco city hall on September 21, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of disabled people staged a protest aga
Image: Daily Kos

It’s not a big secret that Obamacare is working to reduce the uninsured in the states that fully embraced the law, particularly those that expanded Medicaid. That’s still true, according to two new studies which show that low-income patients have better access to care and hospitals are doing better financially in those states.

Fewer low-income residents of Kentucky and Arkansas, two poor states that expanded Medicaid in 2014, reported problems paying medical bills after the coverage expansions, especially compared with residents of Texas, which has rejected the health law.

More from The Daily Kos

Posted by Libergirl

Neuroscientist Carl Hart: Everything you think you know about drugs and addiction is wrong

Image: Raw Story

Carl Hart grew up in Miami in what he calls the ‘hood, a poor community with high rates of crime and prevalent drug use. He kept a gun in his car, engaged in petty crime and sold drugs. Today Hart is a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University. He’s also an expert on drug addiction. In a TEDMED Talk earlier this month, Hart explained how he went from dealing drugs in the ‘hood to studying addiction at one of the world’s top universities. His talk summarizes some of the major themes from his book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013).

Hart said growing up as he did, he came to believe the prevailing assertion that crack cocaine and other drugs were the villains behind crime and poverty. If he could only solve the addiction problem, he thought, he’d be tackling the root of the problem. As Hart came to learn, that is not the reality. Poverty and crime were around long before crack and other drugs appeared on the scene, and the forces at play that keep poor communities poor are insidious and systemic.

More from the Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Persuading poor people to vote against their economic interests is how the GOP wins. It’s scary how good they are at it…

Posted by Libergirl

Walter Mondale Jnr

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The One Number That Will Decide This Year’s Election

For the past decade, the working-class vote has determined whether the country swung toward Democrats or Republicans.
MOLLY BALLJUL 24 2014, 12:30 PM ET

What will be the deciding factor in this year’s elections? Will it be Obamacare? The chaos erupting across the globe? The president’s approval rating? Will it be single women voters, Hispanics, young people?

Mike Podhorzer crunched the numbers and found there’s one factor that, with eerie consistency, explains the way elections have swung for the past decade. Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, is one of the top electoral strategists on the left. The crucial factor, he found, is Democrats’ vote share among voters making less than $50,000.

Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn’t vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this…

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Connecticut becomes first state to pass $10.10 minimum wage

 

Full story @The CT Mirror

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Elizabeth Warren backs proposal to make the USPS a ‘public option’ for payday lending

Elizabeth Warren backs proposal to make the USPS a ‘public option’ for payday lending (via Raw Story )

Post Office branches could replace payday lenders under a proposal endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The Office of the Inspector General reported last week that 68 million Americans — more than one-fourth of all households – have no checking  or savings account and spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees on non-bank financial services.

Those households spend about $2,412 a year on these fees – or roughly the same amount they spend on food, Warren noted in a column posted Saturday at The Huffington Post.

“Think about that: about 10 percent of a family’s income just to manage getting checks cashed, bills paid, and, sometimes, a short-term loan to tide them over,” Warren wrote. “That’s more than a full month’s income just to try to navigate the basics.”

From the Raw Story

Posted by the NON-Conformist