Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 40

WORTH READING
Join us in
congratulating the
2018 winner of the

Jerrold Scoutt
Prize

Philip J.
Fornaci
Director,
D.C. Prisoners'
Project, Washington
Lawyers' Committee
for Civil Rights &
Urban Affairs

in recognition of
his devoted, skillful
and compassionate
legal services
on behalf of poor
and disadvantaged
residents of the
District of Columbia.

www.dcbarfoundation.org

POOR &
PUNISHED
Review by Ronald Goldfarb

O

ne of the sad things about
growing older is observing
that so many continuing
social problems don't get better.
Commentators demonstrate that
poor people get inadequate health
and legal services. They are imprisoned disproportionately, and prisons
are ugly, expensive, and counterproductive. Exploited farmworkers
toil to bring food to our tables, but
they encounter cruel living conditions.
The legal system ignores the needs of
poor people, and capital punishment
is unfairly administered. To borrow
the classic line from Casablanca,
"I'm shocked, shocked to find that
gambling is going on in here."
In Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of
Poverty in America, Georgetown University Law
Center professor Peter Edelman, whose career has
focused on the needs of the poor and the American
welfare system, reminds readers that the bar, courts,
police, and our justice and social agencies haven't
improved conditions in the decades since the
systemic faults he criticizes were pointed out in
the past half century by critics, studies, and books.
The experts who created the Office of Economic
Opportunity (I was on the staff half a century ago)
dealt with the issues Edelman describes.
The inequities of the bail system that Edelman and,
recently, California Sen. Kamala Harris have noted,
were all revealed in the National Conference on Bail
and Criminal Justice that Attorney General Robert F.
Kennedy generated in the 1960s. My 1965 book,
Ransom: A Critique of the American Bail System,
described that problem and suggested reforms.
Legislation was passed. The problem remains.

The recent criticisms of conservatives about the
excessive costs of our incarceration system now
blends with ageless liberals' indictments of the
inhumane nature of our prison and jail systems,
long noted. Privatization has not improved on
the failures of government.
As Bernie Sanders has reminded us, our rich country
still insists on minimum wage laws that keep poor
workers impoverished, and our public schools are
inadequate. As Yul Brynner sang in The King and I,
"Etcetera and etcetera."
Edelman traveled the United States to observe
exemplary child and family programs in Tulsa,
Oklahoma; educational programs in Chicago;
children's services in Minneapolis; homeless
reforms in Brooklyn, New York; health consortiums
in Alameda, California; and behavioral programs
in New Haven, Connecticut.
The problem is not lack of good ideas or model
programs, but the commitment by government
and private agencies to inculcate them in lasting
ways, and dare I suggest for religious organizations
to practice what they preach. My social worker
daughter worked in New York City public schools
after school hours to provide social services to
needy children in facilities that generally closed
after three o'clock. Great idea. The state withdrew
funding, and the program ended.
Bless the Peter Edelmans who don't desert their
moral positions. Edelman calls the criminalization
of the poor a calamity and deplores the nation's
unwillingness to correct it. "[W]e lack the will to act
as a nation to rectify these problems," he concludes,
blaming "national attitudes about both poverty
and race."
We old-timers wonder if clear messages like his will
ever lead to lasting, systemic reforms. The fundamental question is: How do we get from the
message to the solution?
Ronald Goldfarb is an attorney, author, and literary
agent in Washington, D.C. Read more of his work at
ronaldgoldfarb.com.


http://www.dcbarfoundation.org http://www.ronaldgoldfarb.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018

Your Voice
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: Our Future Begins Here
Super Lawyers
Feature: Risky Business
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 1
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 2
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 3
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 4
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 7
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 8
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 9
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 11
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 13
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Feature: Our Future Begins Here
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 15
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 16
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 17
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 18
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 19
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 20
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 21
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Super Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - SL2
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - SL3
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - SL4
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - SL5
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - SL6
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Feature: Risky Business
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 23
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 24
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 25
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 26
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 27
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 28
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 29
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 30
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 31
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 32
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 33
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 34
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 35
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 36
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 37
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 39
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 45
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - 47
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - April/May 2018 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com