Narrowly conceived, neoliberalism is a system of economic ideas and policy
initiatives that emphasize small government and market-based solutions to social
and economic problems. Adopted in response to the fiscal, welfare and racial crises
of the Keynesian state, neoliberalism has become the dominant governing principle
in the United States over the last forty years. A growing body of literature has
shown how the rise of neoliberalism has underwritten the massive expansion of the
American criminal justice system and the growth of its incarceral arm. Yet
theorists of neoliberalism have largely ignored how the rise of neoliberalism has
affected policing practices and, in turn, have failed to consider the role that police
play in the neoliberal state.
This Note considers policing practices and policies in New York City under the rise
of neoliberalism. It argues that the rise of neoliberalism has led to significant and
lasting changes in the accountability structures, enforcement priorities, and
policing strategies and tactics of New York City's policing apparatus. While new
approaches to policing have been heralded by some as making the NYPD internally
more efficient and more effective at fighting crime, this Note contends that the
adoption of neoliberal policing techniques cannot be evaluated without a broader
account of the historical, social, political and economic contexts in which they are
implemented. An analysis of policing within these broader contexts reveals that
there is good reason to be concerned about many facets of neoliberal policing, which
include shifting accountability structures, the policing of disorder and the
deployment of stop-and-frisk policing. Collectively, these neoliberal policing
practices constitute the punitive governance of disproportionately marginalized
communities, which erodes police legitimacy and may ultimately make poor people
and people of color less secure.
"A Punitive Bind: Policing, Poverty, and Neoliberalism in New York City,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal: Vol. 15
, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol15/iss1/6