Toxic Persons - New research shows precisely how the prison-to-poverty cycle does its damage


"Forty years after the United States began its experimentation with mass incarceration policies, the country is increasingly divided economically. In new research published in the review Daedalus, a group of leading criminologists coordinated by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (which paid me to consult on this project) argued that much of that growing inequality, which Slate's Timothy Noah has chronicled, is linked to the increasingly widespread use of prisons and jails..."

Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

Source: The New York Times

Unmarried Households Are Increasingly the Norm.

Shrink Inequality to Grow the Economy?

Source: The New York Times

To expand the economy, should the United States enact policies to address inequality? And if so, what initiatives would promote growth and reduce the income gap?

Nickel and Dimed

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, the author decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job, any job, could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, she left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered as a woefully inexperienced homemaker returning to the workforce.

Poverty in America: A Handbook

Author: John Iceland

Poverty may have always been with us, but it hasn't always been the same. In an in-depth look at trends, patterns and causes of poverty in the United States, this text combines statistical information, historical data and social scientific theory to provide a picture of poverty in America.

Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty

Authors: Xavier de Souza Briggs, Susan Popkin, and John Goering

Launched in 1994, the Moving to Opportunity program took a largely untested approach to poverty: helping families move from high-poverty, inner-city public housing to low-poverty neighborhoods. The book emphasizes the voices and choices of the program's participants but also rigorously analyzes the changing structures of regional opportunity and constraint that shaped the fortunes of those who "signed up." It shines a light on the hopes, surprises, achievements, and limitations of a major social experiment.

Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work

Authors: Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein

Welfare mothers are popularly viewed as passively dependent on their checks and averse to work. Reformers across the political spectrum advocate moving these women off the welfare rolls and into the labor force as the solution to their problems. Making Ends Meet offers dramatic evidence toward a different conclusion: In the present labor market, unskilled single mothers who hold jobs are frequently worse off than those on welfare, and neither welfare nor low-wage employment alone will support a family at subsistence levels.

The Working Poor : Invisible in America

Author: David Shipler

An intimate portrait of poverty-level working families from a range of ethnic backgrounds in America reveals their legacy of low-paying, dead-end jobs, dysfunctional parenting, and substance abuse and charges the government with failing to provide adequate housing, health care, and education. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Arab and Jew, a new book that presents a searing, intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty.

Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market

Author: Katherine Newman

Now that the welfare system has been largely dismantled, the fate of America's poor depends to a large degree on what happens to them in the low-wage labor market. Katherine S. Newman explores whether the poorest workers and families benefited from the tight labor markets and good economic times of the late 1990s.

The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy

Author: William Julius Wilson

This eminent sociologist has written a complex and provocative analysis of black inner-city poverty. Eschewing both liberal and conservative orthodoxies, Wilson argues that the substantial increase in urban poverty over the past few decades has not been caused by either contemporary racism or an internalized "culture of poverty" value system. Rather it has been the result of major shifts in the economic system, as jobs have left the urban manufacturing sector for a decentralized service sector.

The Great Divergence

Author: Timothy Noah

The income gap in America has been blamed on everything from computers to immigration, but its causes and consequences call for a patient, non-partisan exploration. Noah explains not only how this "Great Divergence" has come about, but why it threatens American democracy--and most important, how we can begin to reverse it.

Affluence and influence : economic inequality and political power in America

Author: Martin Gilens

Demonstrates that America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. This title explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections.

Changing Poverty, Changing Policy

Editors: Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger

Poverty declined significantly in the decade after Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 declaration of “War on Poverty.” Dramatically increased federal funding for education and training programs, social security benefits, other income support programs, and a growing economy reduced poverty and raised expectations that income poverty could be eliminated within a generation. Changing Poverty, Changing Policies documents how economic, social, demographic, and public policy changes since the early 1970s have altered who is poor and where antipoverty initiatives have kept pace or fallen behind.

World Apart: Why Poverty Persists in Rural America

Author: Cynthia Duncan

This book examines the nature of persistent poverty in two impoverished towns in the coalfields of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta and a contrasting social milieu in a prosperous but remote rural mill town in northern New England. Drawing on 350 in-depth interviews and census data, the book analyzes the dynamics of poverty, politics, and community change.

Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances

Editors: Greg J Duncan and Richard J Murnane

As the incomes of affluent and poor families have diverged over the past three decades, so too has the educational performance of their children. But how exactly do the forces of rising inequality affect the educational attainment and life chances of low-income children? In Whither Opportunity? a distinguished team of economists, sociologists, and experts in social and education policy examines the corrosive effects of unequal family resources, disadvantaged neighborhoods, insecure labor markets, and worsening school conditions on K-12 education.