Elizabeth Hinton is Professor of History, African American Studies, and Law at Yale University. Her research focuses on the persistence of poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence in the 20th century United States. Hinton’s first book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2016), examines the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid-1960s that transformed domestic social policies, expanded policing in low-income communities, and facilitated the dramatic expansion of the U.S. prison system. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime received numerous awards and recognition, including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Her recent book, America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (2021), won a Robert F. Kennedy book award. America on Fire provides a new framework for understanding the problem of police abuse and the broader, systemic repression of Black people and other people of color in post-civil rights America. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime and America on Fire were both named New York Times Notable books. Professor Hinton’s articles and op-eds can be found in the pages of Science, Nature, The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, The Journal of Urban History, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, The Boston Review, The Nation, and Time. With the late historian Manning Marable, she coedited The New Black History: Revisiting the Second Reconstruction (2011). Hinton served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Reducing Racial Inequalities in the Criminal Justice System and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2022. She continues to serve as founding co-director of the Institute on Policing, Incarceration, and Public Safety at Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
The Making of Mass Incarceration
Hinton's lecture draws attention to the historical developments that ultimately gave rise to mass incarceration in the late twentieth century U.S. It discusses the major punitive changes that often emerged following the expansion of constitutional and civil rights for Black Americans and raises questions about the limits of democracy. This history provides necessary background to address the ongoing consequences of racial inequities in the criminal legal system and the extraordinary public policy implications of this dynamic.