On many accounts, it is a tale of two cities. The headlines and marketing machines tout to the world that “The Big Easy is Back.” But beyond the celebrations and parades, the story for poor Katrina survivors is very different. While many residents and businesses are enjoying a resurgence a decade after Katrina stormed through, others in post-Katrina New Orleans have a different experience. More than ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the city still struggles with systemic failures. These problem areas include housing, health care, mental health treatment, employment, education, and the criminal justice system. All of these challenges are much more apparent in poor, thinly-resourced communities of color. This Article explores the impact capitalism and market-based strategies have had on the resurgence of New Orleans. The government’s embrace of privatization within historically public domains has only widened the gap between the poor and the affluent communities of New Orleans. The Article specifically uses the challenges poor people face in the schools and the criminal justice system to critique the importation of market-based strategies in the public arena. These practices are especially pernicious because of the cycle they promote. Impaired access to education and exposure to the criminal justice system have long been regarded as significant indicators of whether someone will remain in poverty. Moreover, a strong correlation exists between students who are cast out from the school system due to academic underperformance or minor disciplinary infractions and those who become trapped in the criminal justice system. The numerous legal challenges against the post-Katrina school and criminal court systems indicate that reliance on market-based strategies in these arenas is fraught with legal defects. The proliferation of charter schools and the privatization of the criminal justice system have allowed both systems to impair individual rights.
Olympia Duhart and Hugh Mundy, Cash is King: How Market-Based Strategies Have Corrupted Classrooms and Criminal Courts in Post-Katrina New Orleans, 39 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1199 (2016).