Whom Does The Carceral State Serve ?— A Bibliography

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Incarceration rates in the United States are the highest in the world. If American prisons were compressed into a city, their population would be the fifth-largest in the country, almost matching that of Houston, Texas.

This population is also a deeply unequal one.

A third of all prisoners are African Americans — slightly more than the number of white inmates — despite there being more than five times as many white Americans as black in the country at large.

A third of black men born in 2001 will go to prison during their lives. One in nine of all men born that year, and one in 56 women, will be an inmate at some time.

In the past decade, reform efforts have succeeded in seeing American prison populations decrease, but they remain both enormous and unrepresentative.

And the effects of incarceration in the US are felt long after prisoners leave behind the walls of their jail cells, influencing everything from elections to suburban development.

In the same period, historians, civil rights activists and scholars from across the academic spectrum have tried to make sense of America’s prison system — how did it grow so big? What can be done to stymie its growth and reverse the trend?

Perhaps the biggest question, however, is why.

Why did America’s prison population grow to be so large, and so unequal, in the first place?

The quest for the agents of mass incarceration — the beneficiaries of its expansion — is a fascinating and pertinent one. For without knowing who stands to gain and to lose from the US prison system, it is extremely difficult to target reform where it is most needed.

The following is a bibliography of works from scholars who seek to identify the agents and victims of America’s carceral expansion. It accompanies an article exploring the unique historiography such works have engendered (available here).

It is by no means an exhaustive list.

Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York, 2012).

Dawson, Michael C., Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics (Princeton, New Jersey, 1994)

Forman Jr., James, Locking up our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (New York, 2017).

Gottschalk, Marie, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (New York and Cambridge, 2006).

Hinton, Elizabeth, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2016).

Katz, Michael B., Why Don’t American Cities Burn? (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2012).

Muhammad, Khalil Gibran, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2011).

Pfaff, John F., Locked in: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration — and How to Achieve Real Reform (New York, 2017).

Thompson, Heather Ann, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy (New York, 2017).

Mauer, Marc, ‘The Causes and Consequences of Prison Growth in the United States,’ in Garland, David (ed.), Mass Imprisonment: Social Causes and Consequences (London, 2001), pp. 4–14.

Simon, Jonathan, ‘Fear and Loathing in Late Modernity: Reflections on the Cultural Sources of Mass Imprisonment in the United States,’ in Garland, David (ed.), Mass Imprisonment: Social Causes and Consequences (London, 2001), pp. 15–27.

Beckett, Katherine, ‘Mass Incarceration and Its Discontents,’ Contemporary Sociology, 47(1) (2017), pp. 11–22.

Christianson, Scott, ‘Reviewed Work: The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration,’ Journal of American History, 94(1) (2007), pp. 348–349.

Felber, Garrett, ‘“Shades of Mississippi”: The Nation of Islam’s Prison Organizing, the Carceral State, and the Black Freedom Struggle,’ Journal of American History, 105(1) (2018), pp. 71–95.

Forman Jr., James, ‘Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow,’ Yale Law School Faculty Scholarship Series, 87 (2012), pp. 101–146.

Fortner, Michael Javen, ‘The “Silent Majority” in Black and White: Invisibility and Imprecision in the Historiography of Mass Incarceration,’ Journal of Urban History, 40(2) (2014), pp. 252–282.

Geary, Daniel, ‘Review of: Elizabeth Hinton: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America,’ American Historical Review, 122(3) (2017), pp. 795–797.

Jones, Elizabeth, ‘Racism, Fines and Fees and the US Carceral State,’ Race & Class, 59(3) (2018), pp. 38–50.

Jones, William, ‘Reviewed Work: The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America,’ Journal of American History, 97(3) (2010), pp. 834–835.

Kohler-Hausmann, Julilly, ‘“The Crime of Survival”: Fraud Prosecutions, Community Surveillance, and the Original “Welfare Queen”,’ Journal of Social History, 41(2) (2007), pp. 329–354.

Kohler-Hausmann, Julilly, ‘Welfare Crises, Penal Solutions, and the Origins of the “Welfare Queen”,’ Journal of Urban History, 41(5) (2015), pp. 756–771.

Manion, Jen, ‘Review: Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. New York: Pantheon, 2016,’ The American Historical Review, 122(3) (2017), pp. 797–799.

Murray, Nancy, ‘Review: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,’ Race & Class, 53(1) (2011), pp. 115–117.

Newport, Melanie D., ‘Reviewed Work: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America,’ Journal of Social History, 51(3) (2018), pp. 650–652.

Simon, Jonathan, ‘Is Mass Incarceration History?,’ Texas Law Review, 95(5) (2017), pp. 1077–1101.

Thompson, Heather Ann, ‘Rethinking America through the Lens of the Carceral State,’ Journal of Urban History, 41(5) (2015), pp. 751–755.

Thompson, Heather Ann, ‘Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History,’ Journal of American History, 97(3) (2010), pp. 703–734.

Tsuchiya, Kazuyo, ‘Review of: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America,’ Journal of American History, 104(2), pp. 569–570.

Chase, Robert T., ‘We Are Not Slaves: Rethinking the Rise of Carceral States through the Lens of the Prisoners’ Rights Movement,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 73–86.

Hernández, Kelly Lytle; Muhammad, Khalil Gibran, and Thompson, Heather Ann, ‘Introduction: Constructing the Carceral State,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 18–24.

Hinton, Elizabeth, ‘“A War within Our Own Boundaries”: Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the Rise of the Carceral State,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 100–112.

Kohler-Hausmann, Julilly, ‘Guns and Butter: The Welfare State, the Carceral State, and the Politics of Exclusion in the Postwar United States,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 87–99.

Lassiter, Matthew, ‘Impossible Criminals: The Suburban Imperatives of America’s War on Drugs,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 126–140.

Lichtenstein, Alex, ‘Flocatex and the Fiscal Limits of Mass Incarceration: Toward a New Political Economy of the Postwar Carceral State,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 113–125.

Murch, Donna, ‘Crack in Los Angeles: Crisis, Militarization, and Black Response to the Late Twentieth-Century War on Drugs,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 162–173.

Stewart-Winter, Timothy, ‘Queer Law and Order: Sex, Criminality, and Policing in the Late Twentieth-Century United States,’ Journal of American History, 102(1) (2015), pp. 61–72.

Lassiter, Matthew, ‘The Suburban Imperatives of America’s War on Drugs,’ Process History Blog (17 November 2015). Available at: http://www.processhistory.org/impossible-criminals-the-suburban-imperatives-of-americas-war-on-drugs/. Accessed on: 28/01/2019.

Shenk, Timothy ‘Booked: The Origins of the Carceral State,’ Dissent Magazine (30 August 2016). Available at: https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/booked-origins-carceral-state-elizabeth-hinton. Accessed on: 28/01/2019.

A UK-based journalist, translator, and writer with a passion for history, languages, and sport.

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