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The Indebted Parents Project

Books are written at one moment in time. They are published at another. And then they are read at yet another. In the process, the world doesn’t stand still--it changes in ways that can make our data seem dated despite our best efforts to keep them current.


This is what happened with my most recent book, Prisons of Debt. Almost as soon as I wrote it, the geography of debt that it maps out began to shift. Right up to its publication, I tried to keep the state maps and graphs updated; it seemed like every round of the book’s page proofs needed still more updates. Some of these updates were encouraging, with a few states enacting reforms to ease parents’ debt burden and its punitive enforcement. Others were less so, with many states doubling down on their most damaging practices and punitive laws.


This site is intended to cover these changes--to the extent that I can keep up with them. With the help of my outstanding research assistant, Lou Frettloehr, some of the state maps from Prisons of Debt are updated here (“Data Updates” tab). The site is also intended to provide an overview of this ever-shifting policy and legal landscape, tracking some of the most consequential legislation pending at the state and federal levels (“Pending Legislation” tab). The idea is to draw attention to innovative reforms for those researching them and/or involved in enacting them. And, finally, the site is designed to call out those states with the most punitive accumulation and enforcement practices (“State Ranking” tab)-- serving as a kind of “deadbeat state registry” akin to the registries used to track and punish indebted parents for decades.


Please email me any updates I’ve missed!

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