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Did Mass Incarceration Begin With The War On Poverty?10:30Download

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Steel-helmeted police pull a demonstrator toward police van as they arrest him during rioting in Philadelphia's North Side, August 1964. (AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Steel-helmeted police pull a demonstrator toward police van as they arrest him during rioting in Philadelphia's North Side, August 1964. (AP)

Back in the early 2000s, Elizabeth Hinton started thinking about mass incarceration. But, not because the issue was making headlines or the subject of presidential campaign speeches.

It was because she was visiting a number of family members and loved ones in prison, and she wanted to investigate why so many young African-American men ended up incarcerated.

Hinton, an assistant professor of history and African and African-American studies at Harvard, started researching what appeared to be the dawn of the exploding prison population — the Nixon administration, its war on drugs and expansion of prisons.

But her research led Hinton further back — to the Johnson administration — typically heralded as a liberal hero for his war on poverty.

In her new book, "From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America," Hinton argues that for all of Johnson's important programs designed to fight poverty, his "war on crime" kicked off decades of mass incarceration in the U.S. that continues today.

Guest

Elizabeth Hinton, assistant professor of history and African and African-American studies at Harvard. Her new book is "From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America." She tweets @elizabhinton.

Photos

In her book, Elizabeth Hinton argues nationwide race riots in the summer of 1964 played a big role in President Lyndon B. Johnson's "war on crime." Below are some archival photos from those riots.

Police corner a group of men using teargas, guns and nightsticks during one phase of a race riot in Dixmoor, Illinois in August 1964. Police ordered African-Americans back into their houses. Those who defied the order were taken to police vans. (AP)
Police corner a group of men using teargas, guns and nightsticks during one phase of a race riot in Dixmoor, Illinois in August 1964. Police ordered African-Americans back into their houses. Those who defied the order were taken to police vans. (AP)
A woman who stayed at the riot scene in Dixmoor, Illinois in August 1964 is carried to a police van. More than a score were arrested. (AP)
A woman who stayed at the riot scene in Dixmoor, Illinois in August 1964 is carried to a police van. More than a score were arrested. (AP)
Lined up against a billboard, three young African-American men are searched for weapons by Jersey City police officers wearing riot helmets in August 1964. Beforehand, Molotov cocktails, bottles, rocks and bricks were thrown at police. At least two African-Americans were shot in the flare-up and several other people, including police officers, were injured. (AP)
Lined up against a billboard, three young African-American men are searched for weapons by Jersey City police officers wearing riot helmets in August 1964. Beforehand, Molotov cocktails, bottles, rocks and bricks were thrown at police. At least two African-Americans were shot in the flare-up and several other people, including police officers, were injured. (AP)
Helmeted policemen wield their clubs on an African-American man lying on the sidewalk at 132nd St. and 7th Ave. in Harlem in July 1964. Demonstrators were protesting the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old African-American boy, James Powell, by a white police officer. (AP)
Helmeted policemen wield their clubs on an African-American man lying on the sidewalk at 132nd St. and 7th Ave. in Harlem in July 1964. Demonstrators were protesting the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old African-American boy, James Powell, by a white police officer. (AP)

This segment aired on June 8, 2016.

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