Andrea Bopp Stark & Geoffrey Walsh on Carceral Bankruptcy
In this episode, Andrea Bopp Stark and Geoffrey Walsh, both staff attorneys at the National Consumer Law Center, discuss their work on fines and fees in bankruptcy case, with a particular focus on their article, Sentenced to a Life of Debt: It Is Time for a Reassessment of How Bankruptcy Law Intersects with Fines and Fees to Keep People in Debt. Geoff and Andrea explain how state and local governments have funded mass incarceration through the imposition of fines and fees in the criminal law arena and how this undermines many of the policy rationales articulated by the Supreme Court in Kelly v. Robinson, which made it much more difficult to discharge criminal justice debt in bankruptcy cases. We discuss possible solutions, including treating this debt like tax debt and why an analogy to tax debt is better than an analogy to student loan debt. Stark and Walsh have published several articles on this topic, including the one we primarily discussed, which is available in the Federal Sentencing Reporter and on the NCLC website.