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'Unjust Debts' author on bankruptcy and the injustice baked in

The New Press

In theory, bankruptcy is a system set up to offer a way for people to navigate the debts they cannot pay. In practice, it can take advantage of the poor — and be used as a tool for corporations and the rich to get richer and skirt responsibility.

At least, that’s the argument Melissa Jacoby makes in her book “Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal.”

Jacoby, a law professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, admits the topic is not the sexiest. Even she almost didn’t make a career of it. But a class taught by future U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren shifted Jacoby's focus and led her to dedicate her life to the topic.

Jacoby breaks down how supposedly race-neutral processes negatively impact people of color, how bankruptcy has been used by some to escape scandal, and how the system can treat corporations better than people.

Join guest host Sarah Delia for that conversation, and more, next time on Charlotte Talks.


Melissa Jacoby, Graham Kenan Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Gabe Altieri is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Prior to joining WFAE in 2022, he worked for WSKG Public Media in Binghamton, New York.