Over the past 35 years, public and private actors have turned US criminal justice institutions into a vast network of revenue-generating operations. Today, practices such as fines, fees, forfeitures, prison charges, and bail premiums transfer billions of dollars from oppressed communities to governments and corporations. Guided by scholarship on racial capitalism, we argue that to understand how and why criminal justice operates as it does today, one must attend to its predatory dimensions. Analytically and politically, the concept of predation connects diverse forms of criminal legal takings to one another, to the extractive regimes of earlier eras, and to contemporary businesses that financially exploit subjugated communities. Analyses that focus on predatory relations encourage a reconsideration of some dominant understandings in the study of criminal justice today.
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