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, the number of veterans who have been incarcerated after their military service has steadily increased, with over 100,000 veterans in prison today.
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.
“Prisoners after War is on the cutting edge. It will appeal to a wide array of readers, including scholars of carceral and military history, social scientists interested in the intersections of veterans’ service and reentry, and crucially, general audiences curious about the lived experiences of criminalization and incarceration.”—Melanie D. Newport, author of This is My Jail: Local Politics and the Rise and Mass Incarceration