The nationwide movement against police violence and mass incarceration has brought to light the repressive and coercive nature of the criminal justice system in the United States. Attention has been focused on both the egregious disparities in incarceration between the U.S. and other Western industrial states and a plethora of cases of lethal force used by the police against civilians. These are vital issues. But given less attention is the issue of how we have arrived at such violent, coercive and repressive policies of social control in the United States. In this essay I will focus on neoliberalism and its impact on policing as a broader explanation of how we have become what Jock Young called a retributive society.
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