From The War On Poverty To The War On Crime

A brand new novel by Elizabeth Hinton It’s a step in the same direction from the War on Poverty to the War on Crime. In the same vein as Gottschalk and Murakawa, Hinton views Nixon’s incarceration politics as more of a continuation than a break from what came before.

From The War On Poverty To The War On Crime

However, Hinton’s perspective is distinct in that it provides an in-depth political and financial study of the patterns in national criminal policy that have contributed to the rise in crime control and incarceration.

From The War On Poverty To The War On Crime

Hinton’s key point is that despite appearances, President Johnson’s War on Poverty was not diametrically opposed to his War on Crime. Instead, there were fundamental assumptions about crime and delinquency shared by both campaigns, especially with regards to racial identity.

The War on Poverty not only laid the ground for future events by combining a racially programme of social uplift with a racialized programme of monitoring and surveillance along similar lines, but it also inevitably led to the War on Crime.

Hinton provides a valuable and expert overview of national policy under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. She offers a compelling case, supported by a realistic timetable of reforms, laws, and measures, that concerns about juvenile criminality by inner-city kids of colour were present in the Kennedy days.

During the Johnson administration, this fear grew, spurring neighbourhood development initiatives and the first steps toward widespread monitoring of black and other children thought to be hardened offenders. It is fascinating that Hinton highlights the impact of Cloward and Ohlin, authors of the seminal Differential Opportunities Theory, on the development of these tactics.

Ohlin oversaw the organising of local interventions by benevolent reformers who introduced external mentors to indoctrinate teenagers in suitable exploits and vocational prospects, focusing on what was seen as the disordered single parent black home. Concurrently, surveillance initiatives that were seen as disturbing and legally problematic but also effective were used to track and monitor the neighborhood’s youth who came from such pathological families.

Hinton isn’t so ready to let Johnson off the hook by comparing him to his successor as president, though; he brings up Johnson’s uninspiring Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice and Johnson’s parting shot, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

Traditional narratives, which villainize Nixon for his 1970 expansion of the Act, have been superseded by her nuanced and nuanced-sounding description of the signing of the Act.

Hinton’s narrative does not, however, absolve Nixon of blame for the criminal justice system’s meteoric expansion. She delves into the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), focusing on the agency’s fiscal effects on metropolitan police departments.

Although many academics have discussed the implications of LEAA for urban policing and the criminal justice system at large, never before has the funding itself been thoroughly analysed. Hinton demonstrates how efforts to strengthen municipal police forces were directed at reducing street violence committed by African American teenagers.

Last Words

This section provides a thoughtful evaluation of the response to the epidemic of youth crime. Reading Hinton’s description of how our concept of childhood lost in the first place is especially relevant in the context of urban black adolescents, given the current trend toward rediscovering childhood.