Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

The Makings of Mass Incarceration in the United States with Elizabeth Hinton

Air Dates: March 9-15, 2020

While the United States contains less than five percent of the planet’s population, it has nearly one-quarter of the world’s prison population.  Elizabeth Hinton traces the politics and policy decisions since President Lyndon’s Johnson’s War on Poverty that created the nation’s reliance on mass incarceration.

Elizabeth Hinton is Professor in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th-century United States.  In her award-winning book, “From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America,” Hinton examines the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid-1960s that made the United States home to the largest prison system in world history.  It has received numerous awards, including being named to the New York Times’s 100 notable books of 2016.  In 2018, Hinton co-organized the landmark conference “Beyond the Gates: The Past and Future of Prison Education at Harvard,” committed to expanding educational access for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people at Harvard and stimulating meaningful dialogue about justice and inequality.

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Hinton describes the punitive policies of the 1970s and 1980s that dealt with nonviolent drug crimes.  Instead of utilizing a public health approach for drug abuse, Hinton says the “war on drugs” manifested itself as a war on the communities most affected by drug use, contributing to the rise in the U.S. prison population.

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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