Program to Discuss Poverty and the Law

When it comes to the poor in the United States, is the law a sword or a shield? Does the legal system punish people in poverty or protect them?


Cynthia Kramer, director of the legal studies program at William Woods University, will examine the issue Monday, Sept. 27, during a presentation from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Model Courtroom of the Burton Business Building.


The event is in conjunction with the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s annual One Read program, which encourages residents to read one book and participate in thought-provoking discussions.


The library’s selection this year is “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. The author worked under cover at minimum wage jobs to learn how the working poor try to make ends meet.


Monday’s program is titled “Poverty and the Law: Sword or Shield.” Kramer explained that the law is frequently described as a sword against oppressors and a shield to protect the oppressed.


“My presentation will explore the relationship between the law and the poor in the United States to determine whether the law is used to protect and help the poor or to marginalize and punish them,” she said.


Discussion will include legal issues raised in the book “Nickel and Dimed,” such as employment practices, worker’s compensation and landlord/tenant conflicts. In addition, she will examine the impact of economic class on incarceration, legal representation and democracy.

In addition to being director of legal studies at WWU, Kramer is an associate professor of political science. She has been a practicing attorney for more than 20 years and has served as a volunteer attorney helping the poor through a number of service agencies, including Lawyers for Justice, the Columbus (Ohio) AIDS Task Force and the Columbus Bar Association Homeless Project.


The program at WWU is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Kramer at (573) 592-4293.