Policing the World of Work: the Impact of COVID-19 on Informal Economies

Criminalization, racism, citizenship, ableism, and parenting impact a person’s ability to find work, and the informal sale of services and goods (e.g. drug selling, sex work, street vending) is a lifeline for many who are shut out of or choose not to work in the formal economy. COVID-19 has disrupted markets, further exacerbating economic instability and increasing the risk of COVID-19 and police aggression and violence.

This is the fifth in a series of seven discussions that DPA held on COVID-19 and drug policy. These discussions bring together advocates and allies in the justice reform movement to discuss how we can sustain progress, which obstacles still remain, and how we can use the current moment to be more aspirational with our policy agendas.


  • Leila Raven, DecrimNY
  • Caty Simon, Urban Survivors Union
  • Tamika Spellman, HIPS
  • Nik Theodore, University of Chicago

Moderator: Aliza Cohen, Drug Policy Alliance

Watch more of this discussion series.

Criminal Justice Reform