America’s militarized police forces now have some highly visible tools at their disposal, some of which have been in the spotlight this week: machine guns, night-vision equipment, military-style vehicles, and a seemingly endless amount of ammo. But the economic arm of police militarization is often far less visible, and offender-funded justice is part of this sub-arsenal.
In reckoning with police militarization, the economic side of the phenomenon should be considered. The connection may not be obvious to those who’ve never had the gas or water or electricity in their homes shut off. But these forces operate in tandem—the tear gas and the tickets; the weaponry and the warrants—compromising a wide range of fundamental rights that seem, in Ferguson and beyond, to have gone up in smoke.