Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘cars and jails’

“How Car Culture Funnels Drivers Into Debt, Jail, and Danger” — CARS AND JAILS by Andrew Ross and Julie Livingston reviewed by The New Republic

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

“For over a century, the automobile has served as an icon of American prosperity and individual liberty. But for a large portion of drivers, the car opens into worlds of unfreedom: into the gaping maw of America’s courts, jails, and prisons on the one hand and into the arms of predatory creditors on the other. That, at least, is the thesis of Cars and Jails, a new book by NYU professors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross. Cars, once America’s most important industrial commodity, are now, for so many, a vehicle of debt-driven extraction. They are also the setting of the most common interaction between citizens and police—one that plays out on streets and highways more than 20 million times annually, often as a humiliating ritual of domination and submission. How did this happen?

Read the full review here.

“How Your Car is Doubling as a Data Collection Device — And Who’s Profiting” — CARS AND JAILS featured in Streetsblog USA

Monday, August 7th, 2023

“Ross and Livingston trace the rise of roadway “surveillance capitalism” — a term they borrow from scholar Shoshana Zuboff — as far back as the invention of the modern driver’s license, which they say has gradually evolved into “a master key” to a vast trove of personal information well beyond what’s printed on our IDs themselves. And they say law enforcement officers don’t just draw on that trove when they pull over a driver suspected of a crime; federal agencies like the FBI and ICE also make “extensive use of their unmonitored access to DMV data,” using facial recognition software to cross-match driver’s license images with surveillance footage as they investigate crimes.

That software, though, is often prone to errors, particularly when trained on people with darker skin — as is the automated license plate reader software that many cities rely on to catch speeders and red light runners, which some studies show are wrong around 10 percent of the time. Because both kinds of technology, by their nature, are used to help search for perpetrators among of sea of innocent people, they end up cataloging vast reams of data on the movements of roadway users not suspected of any crime at all.”

Read the full article here.

“How Some Traffic Fines and Fees Can Make Our Roads More Dangerous” — CARS AND JAILS featured in Streetsblog USA

Monday, July 31st, 2023

”In some ways, Livingston and Ross argue, extractive fines and extreme police harassment for even the most minor vehicle violations have been an integral part of motordom since its beginning, particularly for the people of color who shoulder an overwhelming majority of both burdens. The authors say that “revenue policing” really ballooned, though, following the tax revolts of the 1970s and ’80s, when many progressive taxes were rescinded and governments were forced to take on massive bonds to provide basic public amenities.

To service — and, eventually, collateralize — those debts, municipalities turned to criminalizing and fining the people on their roads instead, all while directing bond revenues towards autocentric infrastructure and away from public transit projects that give residents an alternative to driving and all the carceral costs that come with it.”

Read the full article here.

“How Auto Debt is Holding Millions of Americans In Custody — Sometimes Literally” — CARS AND JAILS featured in Streetsblog USA

Monday, July 24th, 2023

”For their groundbreaking and essential new book Cars and Jails, New York University professors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross worked with a team of formerly incarcerated peer researchers to examine what they call “the continuum between auto ownership and incarceration” in the United States. The book, though, could just as easily be called “Cars, Jails, and Money” for how inextricable our criminal justice systems are with our systems of consumer debt, corporate profit, and mass surveillance — and how impossible it will be to unravel one without confronting the others.”

Read the full article here.

“How cars fuel racial inequality” — CARS AND JAILS by Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross featured in Vox

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023

“A lot of people we were interviewing were driving pretty fancy cars. We were stroking our chins, going: How did you afford that? It turned out that some of them were walking into dealerships and being told they couldn’t get financing for the Hondas they wanted, but could for a top-of-the-line Mercedes,” Ross says. “Why would a lender and dealer do that? Because they know they’re going to be able to repossess the car quickly.”

It wasn’t the only way formerly incarcerated people were targeted. For those who were Black, the heightened risk of being pulled over meant they were vulnerable to being reincarcerated for a minor traffic violation if an officer found out they had a prior felony conviction and were on parole. “Coming out of prison, when you get behind the wheel of a car, it puts you in the spotlight,” Ross says. While working with their formerly incarcerated peer researchers on the project, Ross noted, three of them were pulled over for minor traffic violations and ended up being incarcerated again.

Read the full article here.

“Car Creditocracy” — CARS AND JAILS authors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross interviewed by Public Books

Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

“Rather than presenting the intersection of cars, jails, debt, and surveillance as a distinct movement that we must find the energy and time to add to our list, the book presents “mobility justice” as a site that connects movements and deepens our understanding of how power works across intersecting forms of extraction and oppression. Another part of the magic of this study—and what makes it a pleasure to read—is the way it balances its rigorous analysis with the human stories that connect the conceptual dots.”

Read the full article here.

“Road to Prison” — CARS AND JAILS authors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross interviewed in MarketWatch

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

“In the American popular imagination, the car is a symbol of freedom. But in reality, for many, it can actually be a trap. 
That’s one takeaway of “Cars and Jails: Freedom Dreams, Debt and Carcerality,” a book by Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross, professors at New York University (OR Books, November, 2022). The two, who work in a research lab at NYU with formerly incarcerated students, trace the pathways that lead Americans from cars to jails and from jails to cars and back again.”

Read the full interview here.

“The Road to Auto Debt” — CARS AND JAILS authors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross featured in n+1

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

“FOR MANY AMERICANS, it is easier to acquire a new car than to find a rental apartment they can afford. But there is a high price, in sheer debt, to pay for getting that ride on the road. The average monthly loan payment for a new vehicle recently passed the $700 mark, a figure that does not include insurance and the steep costs of maintenance. Currently, Americans owe 1.52 trillion dollars in auto debt—a staggering sum that has doubled over the last decade, due in large part to the migration of subprime loans from the housing to the auto market.”

Read the full article here.

“Free Spirits” No More — CARS AND JAILS by Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross reviewed by Imaginations

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

“In CARS AND JAILS, New York-based professors of Social and Cultural Analysis Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross build on this theme, devastatingly undermining the mythology of automobiles as “freedom machines” and foregrounding the irony of tropes like the Buick “Free Spirit”. The book exposes the grim contrast between images of freedom and the reality of a society in which decaying or non-existent public transport creates auto-necessity that drags working people deeper into debt and, especially for people of colour, exposes them to the hazards of pretextual police traffic stops for “driving while Black”.”

Read the full review here.

“How US police got the deadly power to stop drivers at will” — CARS AND JAILS authors Julie Livingston and Andrew Ross featured in The Guardian

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

“Between 2017 and November 2022, 730 people were killed by police during these incidents. More than once a week during that time, someone not being pursued or investigated for a violent crime met their death after a traffic stop. An alarming number were stopped on the pretext of any one of a hundred or more petty traffic code violations.

How did police achieve the power, and impunity, to stop motorists seemingly at will?”

Read the full article here.

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