Prisoners After War : Veterans in the Age of Mass Incarceration

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2024-03

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University of Massachusetts Press

Abstract

The United States has both the largest, most expensive, and most powerful military and the largest, most expensive, and most punitive carceral system in the history of the world. Since the American War in Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of veterans have been incarcerated after their military service.

Identifying the previously unrecognized connections between American wars and mass incarceration, Prisoners after War reaches across lines of race, class, and gender to record the untold history of incarcerated veterans over the past six decades. Having conducted dozens of oral history interviews, Jason A. Higgins traces the lifelong effects of war, inequality, disability, and mental illness, and explores why hundreds of thousands of veterans, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, were caught up in the carceral system. This original study tells an intergenerational history of state-sanctioned violence, punishment, and inequality, but its pages also resonate with stories of survival and redemption, revealing future possibilities for reform and reparative justice.

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