Amelia Wirts on Police and Systematic Oppression in the United States

Professor Amelia Wirts was interviewed about her paper “Policing and Criminal Oppression,” featured on the APA blog, by Professor Joseph Orosco, Oregon State University, and of the Anarres Project for Alternative Futures. Wirts’ paper examines different viewpoints of what are the causes of police brutality in the United States. First, she explores the ‘Bad Apples’ view which theorizes that only a few bad individual police officers are the problem and we just need to hold them accountable and remove them from the force. Secondly, she examines the ‘Bundle of Bad Practices’ view which she states “places the source of the injustices of police brutality in specific practices that are separable from the institution of policing itself.” Wirts demonstrates how neither of these views fix the inherent problems with our policing system. She instead offers the ‘Oppressive Systems’ view which demonstrates how the current policing system perpetuates injustices and creates a ‘criminalized’ group of people. This view advocates for societal change of defunding the police and using that funding for education, housing, healthcare, and other social services, creating a safer society for all communities and less need for policing. She demonstrates how the police force’s systematic oppression is inherent in our current system and how society can start the long path to societal change now by creating jobs programs and investing more in education which are proven to decrease violent crime.

Professor Wirts will be teaching a seminar in Legal Philosophy: Criminal Law & Punishment Under Unjust Circumstances in fall quarter.