J.D. Tuccille on Life in an Inner-City Police State

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For six years, starting as a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, the sociologist Alice Goffman lived in a black Philadelphia neighborhood that she calls 6th Street. (The place name is a pseudonym, as are the names of the people Goffman describes.) There she immersed herself in the family lives and legal woes of people whose experiences were far removed from her own. In On the Run, her book about the experience, writes J.D. Tuccille, Goffman concludes that the neighborhood is molded by its young men's relationship with the criminal justice system and that such places constitute an archipelago of racially tense police states within a larger liberal democracy.

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