With our July 27, 2020, issue and special section “You and the Law,” The Community Voice is launching a yearlong Solutions Journalism project entitled “The Criminalization of Poverty.”

Last year, The Community Voice, decided to put our team of award-winning journalists to work addressing the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised. While issues affecting the poor are vast, we decided to concentrate on the disproportionate impact of the justice system on this group.

Being poor should not be a crime, but all across America, the Midwest and in our local communities, the scales of justice are weighing heavily on the poor.

In a yearlong series called “The Criminalization of Poverty,” the Community Voice will research, investigate and report on this systemic issue. However, rather than just looking at the problems, we’ll focus on what is being done right to offer solutions.

Through these articles, we hope to motivate our readers and others to get behind policies and procedures that can work to diminish this economic imbalance.

For 25 years, the focus of The Community Voice has been the issues and concerns of the African-American community. While we recognize that a disproportionate share of the poor are people of color, the outcome of this project can have a positive impact on the lives of all poor people, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

When we conceived this project last year, we had no idea how timely and relevant this issue would become. While this is not a Black Lives Matter project, it does similarly take a keen look at injustice in what is supposed to be a “justice” system.

Our first article in this series begins on page 4 of this special section. We look at the growing problem of suspended driver’s license, a situtation that disproportionately affects the poor.

We found a number of states and local governments that have found workable solutions that more fairly punish individuals for breaking traffic laws, without breaking their back.

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