Jackie Wang on Carceral Capitalism

Hosted by: 
Produced by: 
Air date: 
Wed, 09/18/2019 - 8:00am to 9:00am
More Images: 
Black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, performer, and PhD student talks with the 3rd Wednesday crew


Jackie Wang is a writer, poet, musician, and academic whose writing has been published by Lies Journal, Semiotext(e), HTML Giant, BOMBlog, along with numerous zines, such as those by the Moonroot collective. Her essay “Against Innocence” provides insightful analysis on penal and race theory. Her blog, Ballerinas Dance with Machine Guns, reads like a journal that explores writing as process, the personal as political. Originally from New Port Richey, Florida – “people call it New Port Nowhere” – Jackie moved to Cambridge, MA  for a PhD program in African and African-American Studies and History at Harvard University. (From an interview in Mask Magazine.)

Carceral Capitalism,  published last year by MIT Press/Semiotext(e), is a book of Essays on the contemporary continuum of incarceration: the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and algorithmic policing. It's been called "one of the most wide-ranging, critical, and theoretically nuanced examinations of the political economy of the carceral state in the USA to date" (SocialistProject).

We’ll talk to Jackie about the intersection of carceral capitalism and the housing crisis and what it looks like here in Portland. We’ll also check in about Jackie’s new work which will be coming out soon.

Download audio file


ulpanaylaylo's picture

Just as the Pledge Break pitch was cutting into today's guest Jackie Wang's recap of U.S. Justice Dept Civil Rights investigation findings that uncovered schemes used by the Ferguson, Missouri municipality and courts to raise revenues after White Flight and the financial services industry collapse of 2007-08 leading up to the police shooting of Michael Brown, the audio archive seems to drop out.

I've been attempting to listen via my home PC since I have no mobile device and was up early at work and couldn't tune in over the original broadcast.

Quoting the U.S. Justice Department public announcement of its report findings of March 4, 2015, barely a year before newly elected President Trump's head of the Justice Department and his Attorney General Jeff Beauregarde Sessions declared no findings of any coast to coast systemic problems in U.S. of policing, only what AG Sessions termed "a few bad apples" among the various police departments being studied, the Ferguson, Missouri case showed this level of collusion among municipality's institutions of law enforcement, the courts and the Carceral State which today's guest Ms Wang's new book addresses.

One is struck reading early in the summation these findings of Sessions' predecessors at the Justice Department that any online search will find form a template for various municipalities across the country where a life-taking police officer may have been exonerated or lightly disciplined by the local police force, however as in the case of the killing of Michael Brown, journalistic and Justice Department investigations uncovered enough evidence of institutional Government collusion with the courts and corruption as to make Orson Welles' character of the seen-it-all disheveled border town (think Nogales) Police Captain Hank Quinlan in TOUCH OF EVIL, perhaps the best Hollywood movie about border town corruption on both sides of that U.S.-Mexican border, blush...:

"The department found that Ferguson Municipal Court has a pattern or practice of:

"Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements.

"Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty.Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.

"The department found a pattern or practice of racial bias in both the FPD and municipal court:"

" The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans and that this disproportionate impact is avoidable.

"Ferguson’s harmful court and police practices are due, at least in part, to intentional discrimination, as demonstrated by direct evidence of racial bias and stereotyping about African Americans by certain Ferguson police and municipal court officials.

"The findings are laid out in a 100-page report that discusses the evidence and what remedies should be implemented to end the pattern or practice. The findings include two sets of recommendations, 26 in total, that the Justice Department believes are necessary to correct the unconstitutional FPD and Ferguson Municipal Court practices.

"The recommendations include: changing policing and court practices so that they are based on public safety instead of revenue; improving training and oversight; changing practices to reduce bias, and; ending an overreliance on arrest warrants as a means of collecting fines."

Hope the audio archive of today's broadcast wasn't lost to technical snafu during the Pledge Break and that you can post an announcement to the KBOO daily front page that this Public Affairs' program's audio has been restored to the archive.

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters & Shifters
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Media Discussion List