Beacon Press: The War on Neighborhoods
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The War on Neighborhoods

Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City

Authors: Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, Daniel Cooper

A narrative-driven exploration of policing and the punishment of disadvantage in Chicago, and a new vision for repairing urban neighborhoods

The Chicago Police Department is infamous for high-profile cases of corruption, violence, and racism. For example, between March 2011 and September 2015, citizens across the city filed more than 28,000 allegations of police misconduct, with 2,000 charges coming from a single neighborhood. In The War on Neighborhoods, Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Dan Cooper interview residents, police officers, community activists, judges, businesspeople, and those who have been in and out of the penal system in Austin, a majority-black neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, where more than 16,000 residents were sentenced to prison in a single 5-year period. Through firsthand reporting and careful analysis, Lugalia-Hollon and Cooper show how punitive policies have maintained a perpetual state of disorder and disenfranchisement in the community rather than a sense of public safety and security. This trend can be seen nationwide: in cities across the United States, specific neighborhoods are punished and starved of investment in positive community structures that can allow residents to reach their full potential.

Incisive and informative, The War on Neighborhoods makes the case for a revolutionary reformation of our public safety model that shifts focus from punishment and police-mandated arrest quotas, and lifts up the power of residents, shores up neighborhood institutions, and addresses the effects of trauma and poverty. What the authors ultimately call for is a profound shift in how we think about investing in urban communities—away from the perverse misinvestment of incarceration and toward a model that invests in people.
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“A worthy plea for change.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Beyond national headlines on murder rates and inept government, Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper dig deeper to reveal the oft-missing story of disinvestment, displacement, and the structured disposability of Black and Brown people. With sincerity and a keen knack for storytelling, Lugalia-Hollon and Cooper provide an important analytical lens by which to understand the city of Chicago. A truly important read for those interested in the life of cities.”
—David Stovall, professor of African American studies and educational policy studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, and co-author of Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools

“Buttressed by evocative stories and persuasive data, The War on Neighborhoods makes the case that entire communities have been at once abandoned by capital and targeted by the punishing state. As Lugalia-Hollon and Cooper demonstrate, the consequences have been devastating for residents of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood: high unemployment, poor schools, rampant drug addiction, and high rates of incarceration. This book is a clarion call to address the impacts of disinvestment and racialized/gendered criminalization on generations of people living on the West Side of Chicago and across the country. Everyone should read this book.”
—Mariame Kaba, founder and director of Project NIA

“This excellent account of how we have systemically decimated hope in so many urban neighborhoods comes at a pivotal moment. As a lifelong advocate for greater investments in youth and families, I was both educated and reinvigorated by reading it. We must find ways to dramatically shift public investments from punishment to opportunity. This book reminds us to act fast and be bold with those investments if we hope to turn this long tide of racial and economic injustice.”
—Elizabeth Gaines, senior fellow, Forum for Youth Investment

The War on Neighborhoods reveals, in chilling detail, what our collective delusions about safety have done to vulnerable communities and how unsafe we have made the places we police most heavily. It also lays the groundwork for imagining a future in which we overcome what the authors call our ‘addiction to punishment.’”
—Eula Biss, author of On Immunity and Notes from No Man’s Land

“Lugalia-Hollon and Cooper’s argument is both simple and devastating: America’s legal system has never and will never lead to safer communities. Beautifully written and painstakingly researched, the authors show us how divesting our public dollars from mass incarceration and instead investing in human potential is the only humane, economical, and effective long-term solution to crime. In doing so, The War on Neighborhoods demands that we rethink everything about our broken criminal justice system and provides the blueprint for a new way forward.”
—Purvi Shah, cofounder of Law for Black Lives

“A clear-eyed and insightful illumination of how often-invisible economic and structural forces of spatial governmentality and social investment converge to shape the course of mass criminalization of communities of color. The War on Neighborhoods is simultaneously a cautionary tale about current approaches to violence and harm, a compelling case for radically reenvisioning public-investment priorities in the name of public safety, a prescription for concrete and common-sense systemic interventions, a hard look at current reform efforts, and a compelling call to action to each and every one of us.”
—Andrea J. Ritchie, author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color

The Heroin Highway

History of the War

Addicted to Punishment

A Cycle Unbroken

The Space Between

Missing Parents

Missing Systems

From Urban to Rural and Back

Limits to Reform

The Path to Peace


The War on Neighborhoods

ISBN: 978-080708465-6
Publication Date: 4/17/2018
Size: x
Price:  $28.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: April 2018
(Backorder policy)