Alice Goffman on Fugitive Life in an American City
Alice Goffman is no Ivory Tower academic. The author of a harrowing new field study, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, Goffman spent the better part of a decade immersing herself in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Philadelphia. Once established, she began to study people’s lives in light of certain trends in law enforcement that are shattering communities with deep existing fractures. New quotas for certain kinds of arrests, combined with increasingly efficient methods of policing the drug war, have set the stage for a real-life drama that rivals Shakespeare's darkest tragedies. While this struggle unfolds outside the view of most Americans, the conflicts and social ills being amplified by the modern criminal justice system should be of concern to everyone. Family members are turned against one another; children view arrest and detention as a rite of passage; and market forces show up in strange places as entrepreneurial energy is channeled into running from the law. Bob gets the inside scoop on Goffman's breathtaking research, as the two discuss the causes and consequences of institutionalized poverty.