From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Hardcover)

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In the United States today, one in every thirty-one older Black person is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven Black males. How did the “land of the free” become the home of the world’s largest prison (greater confinement) system? Challenging the belief that America’s prison (greater confinement) problem originated with the Reagan administration’s War on Drugs. Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society at the height of the civil rights (correct duties) era.

Johnson’s War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about Black peoples’ role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson (the psychopath—they say, “if he wouldn’t have been president he should have been in an insane asylum.”) to call for a simultaneous War on Crime. The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act (LEAA) empowered the national government to take a direct role in militarizing local law enforcement. Federal anti-crime funding soon incentivized social service providers to ally with law enforcement departments, courts, and prisons. Under Richard (tricky dick) Nixon and his successors, welfare programs fell by the wayside while investment in law enforcement and punishment expanded. Anticipating future crime, policymakers urged states to build new prisons and introduced law enforcement measures into urban schools and public housing, turning neighborhoods into targets of law enforcement surveillance.

By the 1980s, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality. The initiatives of that decade were less a departure than the full realization of the punitive transformation of urban policy implemented by Republicans and Democrats (they say, “these two parties are like two football teams and Black people are the football being kicked from pillar to post, just because.”) alike since the 1960s.

Recommended reading:

Blood In The Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (2016); The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoovers’ Secret FBI by Betty L. Medsger (2014); The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by CLR James (1934).  

 

— From Welcome to Eso Won Books

Description


In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the "land of the free" become the home of the world's largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America's prison problem originated with the Reagan administration's War on Drugs, Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society at the height of the civil rights era.

Johnson's War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans' role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson to call for a simultaneous War on Crime. The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act empowered the national government to take a direct role in militarizing local police. Federal anticrime funding soon incentivized social service providers to ally with police departments, courts, and prisons. Under Richard Nixon and his successors, welfare programs fell by the wayside while investment in policing and punishment expanded. Anticipating future crime, policymakers urged states to build new prisons and introduced law enforcement measures into urban schools and public housing, turning neighborhoods into targets of police surveillance.

By the 1980s, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality. The initiatives of that decade were less a sharp departure than the full realization of the punitive transformation of urban policy implemented by Republicans and Democrats alike since the 1960s.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780674737235
ISBN-10: 0674737237
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2016
Pages: 464
Language: English