Foreword: Addressing the Criminalization of Poverty and Marginalization
75(1) University of Miami Law Review CAVEAT (2020)
7 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2021
Date Written: 2020
Across the globe and throughout the United States, governments use petty offenses, such as loitering laws, to exert social control over marginalized communities. Petty offenses enable the policing of public spaces to reinforce social hierarchies and rigid gender norms. People experiencing homelessness regularly face the threat of criminal sanctions for fulfilling basic needs, and fines and fees in the justice system trap the poor in a cycle of poverty and incarceration. In September 2019, the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law hosted a symposium on challenging petty offenses that criminalize poverty, marginalization, and gender nonconformity, in collaboration with the University of Miami Law Review, University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review, University of Miami School of Communication, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and the Open Society Foundations’s Human Rights Initiative. The symposium provided an opportunity to connect local, national, and global conversations on criminal law and social justice and to promote learning across movements and countries, bringing together leading advocates and scholars from the United States, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Malawi, Madagascar, Kenya, Jamaica, Israel, India, Hungary, Guyana, Guinea, and Ghana. Participants critically examined issues from a variety of perspectives and explored the use of litigation; human rights advocacy at the local, national, regional, and international levels; and creative campaigning in challenging petty offenses.
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