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

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I must say if Hinton is representative of the type of scholarship among the youth of today we are in excellent shape. If you're at all interested in the history of law enforcement militarization and mass incarceration of today this is the book. It is extremly important that we have all the facts together and in order, so you're hesitant when starting with Nixon and begin with Hoover, Kennedy, Johnson and the like, when it comes to surveillance, name taking and thuggery. In this regard Hinton is extremly helpful.

— From Current Books we are Reading


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