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FORREST STUART discusses his new book DOWN, OUT AND UNDER ARREST

Down, Out and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row (University of Chicago Press)

In his first year working in Los Angeles’s Skid Row, Forrest Stuart was stopped on the street by police fourteen times. Usually for doing little more than standing there.

Juliette, a woman he met during that time, has been stopped by police well over one hundred times, arrested upward of sixty times, and has given up more than a year of her life serving week-long jail sentences. Her most common crime? Simply sitting on the sidewalk—an arrestable offense in LA.

Why? What purpose did those arrests serve, for society or for Juliette? How did we reach a point where we’ve cut support for our poorest citizens, yet are spending ever more on policing and prisons? That’s the complicated, maddening story that Stuart tells in Down, Out and Under Arrest, a close-up look at the hows and whys of policing poverty in the contemporary United States. What emerges from Stuart’s years of fieldwork—not only with Skid Row residents, but with the police charged with managing them—is a tragedy built on mistakes and misplaced priorities more than on heroes and villains. He reveals a situation where a lot of people on both sides of this issue are genuinely trying to do the right thing, yet often come up short. Sometimes, in ways that do serious harm.

At a time when distrust between police and the residents of disadvantaged  neighborhoods has never been higher, Stuart’s book helps us see where we’ve gone wrong, and what steps we could take to begin to change the lives of our poorest citizens—and ultimately our society itself—for the better.

Praise for Down, Out and Under Arrest 

"An intimate, multifaceted portrait of the police, residents and activists in their own voices. Down, Out, and Under Arrest adds new insights and much-needed complexity to the current debates on policing in the poorest urban areas of the U.S. It is a vivid and insightful five-year study of Los Angeles’s Skid Row that contradicts much of the conventional wisdom about policing and the urban poor."--Shelf Awareness

“Stuart’s extraordinary field work in LA’s Skid Row sheds new light on the regulation of the urban poor in the twenty-first century. This is urban ethnography at its best.”--Mitchell Duneier, author of Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea

Down, Out, and Under Arrest is a trenchant ethnographic account of how big city police harass and ‘manage’ some of the most desperate people of the urban environment, but equally important, how these impoverished denizens—including residents of SRO hotels, skid row, and homeless settlements—wisely manage the police in their everyday lives, powerfully revealing the enormous human toll of the ‘neoliberal state.’ This is a timely work of importance that deserves to be read by a wide audience.”--Elijah Anderson, author of Code of the Street

“Stuart’s Down, Out, and Under Arrest describes a segment of reality that is virtually unknown to Americans—how policing is reshaping the experiences of extreme urban poverty. The challenges of everyday life in Skid Row are revealed in sharp relief in his compelling narrative. Indeed, Stuart’s insightful account, based on years of field research, is replete with original findings. This well written book is a must-read not only for students and scholars of urban poverty, but for the general public as well.” William Julius Wilson, author of The Truly Disadvantaged

Forrest Stuart is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

Photo by Don Liebig

Event date: 
Sunday, September 11, 2016 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Down, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row Cover Image
$27.50
ISBN: 9780226370811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Chicago Press - August 2nd, 2016