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Penal Modernization in the Civil Rights Era, 1954–1970

Penal Modernization in the Civil Rights Era, 1954–1970

(p.30) Chapter Two Penal Modernization in the Civil Rights Era, 1954–1970
Building the Prison State
Heather Schoenfeld
University of Chicago Press

This chapter documents the growth of carceral capacity during the Civil Rights era. It argues that Florida policymakers engaged in a process of penal modernization that was part of a larger state modernizing project that stemmed from racial conflict. The chapter explains how reformers drew on federal resources to develop new hiring and training requirements for police, create new state-level criminal justice bureaucracies, and implement new standards for corrections agencies. In addition, it details how Florida agencies spent Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grants between 1969 and 1979. The chapter concludes that penal modernization changed ideas about the federal and state (as opposed to local) role in crime control, significantly increased the ability of the state to arrest and process those deemed “criminal,” and created new interest groups that reinforced the role of criminal justice in social policy. While penal modernization included new progressive programs, it ultimately created the foundation on which politicians built the punitive carceral state.

Keywords:   penal modernization, bureaucratization, white supremacy, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, St. Augustine, Florida, federalization, police reform

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