Join us for a live conversation between author and St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger and St. Louis County Library Director and CEO Kristen Sorth about Messenger’s new book Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice.
As a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger has spent years in county and municipal courthouses documenting how poor Americans are convicted of minor crimes and then saddled with exorbitant fines and fees. If they are unable to pay, they are often sent to prison, where they are then charged a pay-to-stay bill, in a cycle that soon creates a mountain of debt that can take years to pay off. These insidious penalties are used to raise money for broken local and state budgets, often overseen by for-profit companies, and it is one of the central issues of the criminal justice reform movement. In “Profit and Punishment,” Messenger has written a call to arms, exposing an injustice that is agonizing and infuriating in its mundane cruelty.