Forty years in, the War on Drugs has done little to curb drug use or sales. It has however created a surveillance state in our most deprived neighborhoods. Arrest quotas and futuristic surveillance techniques criminalize entire blocks, and transform the very relationships that should stabilize young lives—family, friendships, jobs—into liabilities. Alice Goffman, an urban sociologist who grew up in Philadelphia, spent six years following a group of young men dealing with limited choices unable to escape the web of presumed criminality. Her new book On the Run, “one of the most eagerly awaited urban ethnographies in years” (New York Times), is a closely observed study of the impact of the criminal justice system on a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood.