Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal (Hardcover)

Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal By Melissa B. Jacoby Cover Image

Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal (Hardcover)

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Named one of the Best Summer Books in Economics by the Financial Times

A groundbreaking look at the hidden role of bankruptcy in perpetuating inequality in America, from an expert in the field


"Unjust Debts throws open the doors and windows to the bankruptcy system so readers can see for themselves how this law works and doesn't work for the real people it so profoundly affects."
--Beth Macy, New York Times bestselling author of Dopesick and Raising Lazarus

Bankruptcy is the busiest federal court in America. In theory, bankruptcy in America exists to cancel or restructure debts for people and companies that have way too many--a safety valve designed to provide a mechanism for restarting lives and businesses when things go wrong financially.

In this brilliant and paradigm-shifting book, legal scholar Melissa B. Jacoby shows how bankruptcy has also become an escape hatch for powerful individuals, corporations, and governments, contributing in unseen and poorly understood ways to race, gender, and class inequality in America. When cities go bankrupt, for example, police unions enjoy added leverage while police brutality victims are denied a seat at the negotiating table; the system is more forgiving of civil rights abuses than of the parking tickets disproportionately distributed in African American neighborhoods. Across a broad range of crucial issues, Unjust Debts reveals the hidden mechanisms by which bankruptcy impacts everything from sexual harassment to health care, police violence to employment discrimination, and the opioid crisis to gun violence.

In the tradition of Matthew Desmond's groundbreaking Evicted, Unjust Debts is a riveting and original work of accessible scholarship with huge implications for ordinary people and will set the terms of debate for this vital subject.

Melissa B. Jacoby is the Graham Kenan Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A frequent commentator on bankruptcy and debt in national media outlets, she has published over fifty articles, book chapters, and op-eds. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal (The New Press) is her first book. Find her at mbjacoby.org.
Product Details ISBN: 9781620977866
ISBN-10: 1620977869
Publisher: New Press
Publication Date: June 11th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English