Books: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

What role did LBJ's Great Society have in creating the mass incarceration crisis America is currently facing? Author Elizabeth Hinton shows that it was not just Reagan's War on Drugs that caused it. Ironically, it began with programs meant to alleviate poverty.

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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.

“An extraordinary and important new book.”

―Jill Lepore, New Yorker

“Hinton’s book is more than an argument; it is a revelation…There are moments that will make your skin crawl…This is history, but the implications for today are striking. Readers will learn how the militarization of the police that we’ve witnessed in Ferguson and elsewhere had roots in the 1960s.”

―Imani Perry, New York Times Book Review