From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

The Making of Mass Incarceration in America
Narrated by: Josh Bloomberg
Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the United States today, one in every 31 adults is under some form of penal control, including one in 11 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.

©2016 The President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The book is vivid with detail and sharp analysis. Stretching beyond the typical scope of an academic text, Hinton's book is more than an argument; it is a revelation." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

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Powerful

The book is rigorous, comprehensive, damning, and compelling. So critical to understanding how racial prejudices led to welfare and crime policies the exacerbated there problems they were designed to resolve.

4 people found this helpful

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Criminal history

Detailed history of how America went from the Great Society to the Great Prison. Very relevant for today and clearly answers how we got to our current state of mass incarceration. Highly recommend this book for social and criminal justice scholars and advocates.

3 people found this helpful

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Good book to learn US history of crime and poverty

Very interesting history of poverty, civil rights, police militarization and the war on drugs, and how it led to current day events. Arguments could be made about specific statements, but the overall theme is well stated.

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Lots of details. Poor organization

I got this book thinking it might give me an insight into how the prison system grew so large. I was able to make some inferences, but the book didn't have a thesis. It described some components of the War on Poverty, the War on Crime, and the War on Drugs, but it jumped back and forth in time for no apparent reason, and failed to make inferences regarding the outcomes of the different programs.

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Hard to get past the bias

If you can get past the bias, great book of stats and dry history. Most major cities are run by African Americans and nothing has changed. Mass incarceration continues. Maybe this really has something to do with drugs and morality with the percentage of single mothers growing daily and marriage on the decline. Who to blame next?

1 person found this helpful