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Reaganism and the rise of the carceral state

December 16, 2015

Excerpt from an OUPblog article, published on 14th December, by Doug Rossinow, Professor of History at Metropolitan State University, MA. He is the author of The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s, which is now available on Columbia Scholarship Online (CUSO).

The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s

"In the moment of Black Lives Matter, with public awareness of mass incarceration and lethal force by police reaching new heights, it’s important to look back on the racial dimension of what I call “the Reagan era” and how that politics led us to where we are now.

Today’s carceral state has its roots in the “war on crime” that took hold in America in the 1980s. That “war” was led by the political forces that I associate with Reaganism, a conservative political formation that generally favored a rollback of state power. A notable exception to this rule was policing and imprisonment. Both Reaganism and the “war on crime” had a racial politics embedded in them, so that these three phenomena—Reaganism as a movement, the “war on crime” and the resulting carceral state, and the racial politics of the 1980s—strengthened and reinforced the others."

Discover more about Reagism and the American carceral state in Doug's article 'Reaganism and the rise of the carceral state'. The first chapter of The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s is now available for a limited time. Get access to the full text of this book, as well as hundreds of Columbia titles, by recommending UPSO to your librarian today.