There is a lot to say about American policing; it is, of course, tied up in big things that people don’t like to talk about in polite company, such as structural racism — which determined virtually every aspect of modern American society, like who owns things, what neighborhoods look like, who we care about, and who seems scary — and capitalism — whose logic proudly depends on the perpetual reproduction of domination and control. But in these few pages, I would like instead to explore carceral America as a failure of legal reasoning and legal practice.
The failure of lawyers is a tragedy in two parts. First, there has been an intellectual failure of the profession to scrutinize the evidentiary and logical foundations of modern policing and mass incarceration. Second, the profession has failed in everyday practice to ensure that the contemporary criminal legal system functions consistently with our rights and values.