Is Mass Incarceration History?

Book Review - Volume 95 - Issue 5

Simon reviews Elizabeth Hinton’s book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, a study of federal crime policy from the Kennedy through Reagan Administrations that Simon dubs “the most telling example yet of this new history of the American carceral state.” Hinton draws on confidential memos and other materials from the National Archives and presidential libraries to “draw a far more precise picture than ever before of what national leaders believed they knew about crime and how they intended to act.” Simon finds that her account “confirms the centrality of political considerations to the shaping of mass incarceration urged by earlier studies, while giving us a much more detailed and pointed analysis of what those political considerations were.” The Book Review proceeds by examining the book’s major findings, before turning to Hinton’s historiographical contributions and her lessons to those who advocate for ending mass incarceration.

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