War on Poverty Veteran Peter Edelman to Present New Book – Not A Crime to Be Poor – and a Battle Cry

November 1, 2017 —

Civil rights leaders Vanita Gupta and Jonathan Smith join Prof. Edelman at Georgetown Law Nov. 7 to discuss the criminalization of poverty in America – and how to end it.


Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman will discuss his new book, Not a Crime to Be Poor, which calls for a new movement to end the criminalization of poverty in America. Edelman argues that the draconian system of fees, fines and modern day debtors’ prisons revealed in the Justice Department’s Ferguson report is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to penalizing the nation’s poor.

As Congress considers major tax reform, Edelman – who famously quit the Clinton administration over welfare reform – will argue that Reagan-era tax cuts have fueled a systematic criminalization of poverty ever since. Not a Crime to Be Poor chronicles those paying the price, including domestic violence survivors, families seeking public benefits, poor fathers struggling with child support, the homeless, the mentally ill and children of color facing a “school-to-prison pipeline."

After his presentation, Edelman will be joined in discussion by two civil rights leaders who oversaw the Ferguson investigation while at the Justice Department. A Q&A, book signing and reception will follow.


Peter Edelman - Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law; Faculty Director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law

Vanita Gupta - President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division

Jonathan Smith - Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; former Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division 


Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 at 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.


Georgetown University Law Center
Gewirz Student Center, 12th Floor
120 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001


Media interested in attending should contact us.

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