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The Front End of the Carceral State: Police Stops, Court Fines, and the Racialization of Due Process

June 2018

From Social Science Review 

A promising new field of research examines racial disparities within the criminal legal system and reveals how mass incarceration contributes to already-existing social inequalities. This essay reviews three books that considerably advance this field: Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, by Charles R. Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald P. Haider-Markel; A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor, by Alexes Harris; and Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court, by Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve. These books draw on the experiences of people directly affected by US crime control policy to reveal the precise mechanisms that produce and sustain racial disparities in arrests, sentencing, and the administration of court fines and fees, while speaking to the broader implications of mass incarceration for race and citizenship in the United States.