When she made the sacrifice, when she waited for Tam’s call that Artegal was on his way and went out for that fake press conference wearing her white homecoming dress so no one would mistake what she was trying to do, then run to the field where Artegal landed—she had felt powerful because she was doing something. She and the dragon had made this plan together, they’d done what they needed to do, and it had worked. Sure, the whole thing had been a little bit crazy, but rather than being scared she’d been giddy. She felt like they could have done anything.
She hadn’t felt like that in a while. This time, this plan, felt like a shot in the dark. She was a pawn, only able to move a step or two at a time.
–Refuge of Dragons (Voices of Dragons #2) by Carrie Vaughn
Many states utilize “poverty penalties”—piling on additional late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when individuals are unable to pay all their debts at once, often enriching private debt collectors in the process. Some of the collection fees are exorbitant. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, and Florida allows private debt collectors to tack on a 40 percent surcharge to the underlying debt.
Two-thirds of people detained in jails report annual incomes under $12,000 prior to arrest. Predictably, most ex-offenders find themselves unable to pay the many fees, costs, and fines associated with their imprisonment, as well as their child-support debts (which continue to accumulate while a person is incarcerated). As a result, many ex-offenders have their paychecks garnished. Federal law provides that a child-support enforcement officer can garnish up to 65 percent of an individual’s wages for child support. On top of that, probation officers in most states can require that an individual dedicate 35 percent of his or her income toward the payment of fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution charged by numerous agencies. Accordingly, a former inmate living at or below the poverty level can be charged by four or five departments at once and can be required to surrender 100 percent of his or her earnings. As a New York Times editorial soberly observed, “People caught in this impossible predicament are less likely to seek regular employment, making them even more susceptible to criminal relapse.”
It is not uncommon for a young black teenager living in a ghetto community to be stopped, interrogated, and frisked numerous times in the course of a month, or even a single week, often by paramilitary units.
The militarized nature of law enforcement in ghetto communities has inspired rap artists and black youth to refer to the police presence in black communities as “The Occupation.” In these occupied territories, many black youth automatically “assume the position” when a patrol car pulls up, knowing full well that they will be detained and frisked no matter what.
Confined to ghetto areas and lacking political power, the black poor are convenient targets.
Thus it is here, in the poverty-stricken, racially segregated ghettos, where the War on Poverty has been abandoned and factories have disappeared, that the drug war has been waged with the greatest ferocity.
“…There is something about knowing that someone is taking pleasure in giving you incredible pain . . . with no remorse. It changes how you see yourself; it changes what you can believe of other people. It changes everything.“
–Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles Book 4) by Robin Hobb