Among the institutions that link criminal justice and inequality in the United States, commercial bail remains one of the most important yet least understood. Each year, the bail industry extracts millions of dollars from lower-income Americans, disproportionately draining resources from poor communities of color. We draw on ethnographic research to explore how the bail system operates as a predatory social process, arguing that gender interacts with class and race to structure resource extraction in this field. Poor women of color are especially subject to bail predation because they are seen within the larger social organization of care as bearing primary responsibility for defendants. Gendered care work and emotional labor are thus central to the field’s logic of practice and to bail industry profits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
© 2019 Russell Sage Foundation. Page, Joshua, Victoria Piehowski, and Joe Soss. 2019. “A Debt of Care: Commercial Bail and the Gendered Logic of Criminal Justice Predation.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 5(1): 150–72. DOI: 10.7758/RSF.2019.5.1.07. We are grateful to AshLee Smith Garret, Ryan Steel, and Chase Hobbs-Morgan for research assistance. Joshua Page received financial support for his research on the bail industry from the Talle Research Fund at the University of Minnesota. Direct correspondence to: Joshua Page at email@example.com, 909 Social Sciences Building, 267 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Open Access Policy: RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is an open access journal. This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
- Predatory industries