85 UMKC Law Review 548 (2017)
27 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 25, 2017
This essay explains how predatory policing and mass criminalization interact to expose African Americans not only to ongoing police surveillance, contact, and social control, but also to economic exploitation and state violence in the form of arrest, sexual assault, incarceration, serious bodily injury, and death. In the context of offering an overarching framework that explains the persistence of police violence against African Americans, the essay argues that critical to the problem are the social, economic, and legal forces that incentivize police officers to target African Americans with little or no basis. This “frontend” police contact is often the predicate to “backend” police violence and incarceration. The Essay thus concludes that we cannot solve African Americans’ vulnerability to mass incarceration and police violence (aspects of our criminal justice system Americans generally view as extraordinary and unnecessary) unless we also solve African Americans’ vulnerability to police surveillance and contact (aspects of our criminal justice system Americans generally view as ordinary and necessary).
Keywords: police violence against African Americans, discrimination, criminalization, criminal justice reform, criminial justice system
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