Noah Zatz Examines How Racialized Mass Incarceration Enables New Forms of Economic Exploitation

Noah Zatz (’01), Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, contributed an article to the Journal of Law and Political Economy discussing ways in which institutional design and policy discourse align to legitimate exploitation by normalizing incarceration as the baseline experience against which labor practices are judged (“Labor Governance in the Shadow of Racialized Mass Incarceration,” Mar. 16). “A ‘better than jail’ framework thus threatens to selectively displace conventional means of mobilizing, and protecting, labor, thereby facilitating new forms of racial stratification at once economic in character and obscured as such. Moreover, framed as a choice constructed within the sphere of criminal justice policy, this threat often arrives cloaked in the progressive mantra of ‘alternatives to incarceration.’ By normalizing incarceration as the baseline, today’s carceral state enables racialized labor subordination to be presented as liberation.”