Dec 20, 2019
Interviewer: RAFAEL KHACHATURIAN. In March 2016, American learned from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the city of Ferguson, Missouri had been operating a “predatory system of government.” Police officers were acting as street-level enforcers for a program — aggressively promoted by city officials — using fines and fees to extract resources from poor communities of color and deliver them to municipal coffers. JOE SOSS (University of Minnesota) argues that what the DOJ discovered in Ferguson is not an anomaly in U.S. history or of contemporary American governance. In his discussion with political theorist Rafael Khachaturian, Soss places the punitive state alongside other predatory organizations – businesses such as payday lenders and rent-to-own stores – with whom poor and minority communities are all too familiar. Tracing the rise of exploitative criminal justice fees and fines over the last few decades, and their impact on women in particular, Soss reveals the intertwined financial and punitive burdens that reinforce poverty and disadvantage in America.