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date: 13 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Since mid-century, the capacity of the United States to punish and surveil its citizenry has undergone tremendous expansion. Yet this phenomenal transformation and its repercussions for citizens has engendered surprisingly little discussion among scholars of American political development (APD). Nor have criminal justice scholars been sufficiently attentive to the intersection between democratic development and the carceral state. In this essay, we highlight how several well-worn tools and concepts in APD have begun to pave new understandings in criminal justice. Many of the studies we describe here have profound consequences for how we see American democracy and citizenship today. They require us to attend to the fact that criminal justice is not just one more slice of the American institutional landscape, but is in fact central to the development of the modern American state, its political order, and how the state interacts with its citizens.

Keywords: criminal justice, carceral state, custodial citizen, incarceration, race and politics, felon disenfranchisement, political socialization

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