Throughout American history, criminal justice has played a critical role in resource extraction from slave patrols to convict leasing, chain gangs and exploitative debt, credit and labor arrangements. Today, as in the past, criminal justice practices facilitate extraction through tools that charge prices, create debts, and pursue collections. By imposing debts, legal authorities lay claim to future resources, taking what poor communities lack, and making the criminal legal system part of a broader class of predatory enterprises. The authors urge that it is time for a serious reckoning with the predatory dimensions of criminal justice to understand how and why criminal justice operates as it does today.
You can read the full text of the essay here.