George Floyd

The Libertarian Roots of Police Reform: Q&A with Radley Balko

How to stop police killings and enact real, lasting reforms.


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George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality. A new consensus is forming around the urgent need for criminal justice reform.

Six years ago, after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just 43 percent of Americans believed that such incidents indicated a systemic problem. Now, though police killings have remained level since 2014, 69 percent of us agree that "the killing of Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement."

To better understand the shift in calls for police reform and what sorts of changes would be most effective, Nick Gillespie sat down with Washington Post opinion writer Radley Balko, a former Reason reporter and editor who covers police abuse, the drug war, and criminal justice reform. His Reason coverage of Cory Maye, a black man in Mississippi put on death row for killing a police officer during a no-knock raid, helped bring about Maye's acquittal, and his books Rise of The Warrior Cop and The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist document widespread problems with law enforcement, expert testimony, and media coverage of crime.

Edited by John Osterhoudt.

Photo: Radley Balko by Gage Skidmore