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Criminal justice as racialized resource extraction

Joshua Page and Joe Soss present their view on criminal legal systems as mechanisms for racialized resource extraction. Standard practices in court systems throughout the United States act to routinely extract resources from low-income and communities of color in order to generate revenue for local governments and affiliated private interests.


  • Criminal justice institutions have become sites for an intricate web of extractive financial practices in recent decades, where powerful actors work to extract resources from vulnerable communities.
  • Predatory law enforcement and punishment schemes (1) are based on a subordinated group’s oppression and marginalization and (2) leverage group vulnerabilities and needs to pursue projects of expropriation, extreme exploitation, and/or dispossession.
  • We see criminal justice predation as an unacceptable injustice, unnecessary for public safety or democratic rule of law.
  • Grassroots organizations, policymakers, and broad-based coalitions are making progress in disrupting or ending predatory practices in state and local jurisdictions nationwide.


Court System, Fines & Fees, Inequality & Mobility, Justice System, Racial/Ethnic Inequality