This year’s conference includes a special focus on Racial Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion Programming. Workshops that will address this overarching theme include [RJ] after the session title.
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Thursday, November 1 • 2:15pm - 3:45pm
Fighting the Criminalization of Poverty: Court Debt Litigation Strategies

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As local governments increasingly shift the costs of the criminal justice system onto those who pass through the courts, people in poor communities who are assessed fines, fees, or costs for low-level violations and criminal convictions are caught in a devastating cycle. What begins as a $200 fine can spiral into thousands of dollars of debt, leading to abusive collection tactics, arrest, and jail. Meanwhile, for-profit corporations make millions by contracting with cities to collect court debt. Legal aid attorneys are uniquely positioned to help fight these abuses. This panel will focus on the constitutional and consumer law principles we can use to advocate for court debtors. We’ll highlight recent developments in the field, address strategies for—and common barriers to—bringing affirmative challenges, identify tools and strategies attorneys in LSC-funded programs can use, and discuss efforts to help individuals reduce or eliminate their court debt.

avatar for Leslie Bailey

Leslie Bailey

Senior Attorney, Debtors’ Prison Project Director, Public Justice
Leslie Bailey is a senior attorney and the director of Public Justice’s Debtors’ Prison Project, a strategic litigation project using damages class actions, constitutional claims, and consumer protection laws to combat the criminalization of poverty. Since joining Public Justice... Read More →

Brian Hardingham

Legal Fellow, Public Justice
Brian Hardingham is a legal fellow at Public Justice, where he litigates a variety of cases concerning civil rights and civil liberties, employees’ rights, and forced arbitration. He is counsel in a putative class action in Alabama seeking damages against private probation company... Read More →

Hillary Madsen

Staff Attorney, Columbia Legal Services
Hillary Madsen is a staff attorney with the Institutions Project at Columbia Legal Services (CLS). Outside of the courtroom, Hillary serves clients through coalition-building and lobbying to advance sound legislative and administrative policies. She joined CLS in 2014. Before joining... Read More →
avatar for Caren Short

Caren Short

Staff Attorney, Economic Justice Project, Southern Poverty Law Center
Caren E. Short is a staff attorney in the Economic Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She works to dismantle systems that target and exploit people and communities - particularly communities of color - based on their economic status. Caren has also represented immigrant... Read More →

Thursday November 1, 2018 2:15pm - 3:45pm CDT
Woodway III