This came up several weeks ago, but I hadn't gotten around to posting on it. On July 26, Elizabeth Hinton (a professor of History and African-American Studies at Harvard) reviewed three books on race and policing in the New York Times. She said that one of the books (Chokehold, by Paul Butler), "demonstrates that when citizenship rights are extended to African-Americans, policy makers and officials at all levels of government historically used law and incarceration as proxy to exert social control in black communities. Black Codes, convict leasing and Jim Crow segregation followed Emancipation; overpolicing and mass incarceration followed the civil rights movement." This reminded me of the figures on crime and prison that I showed in a previous post. I concentrated on crime rates there, so here is more detail about imprisonment. First, the figure for 1929-86, which was the period covered in the data source (it kept going up after 1986):
The next one focuses on the period during and after the civil rights movement:
The rate of imprisonment didn't start rising until 1973, when the movement had either faded away or become mainstream (that is, not really a "movement"). During the period of peak activity of the civil rights movement, the rate of people in prison declined or stayed about the same, although crime was increasing. In a literal sense, the rise in imprisonment did follow the civil rights movement, but the suggestion of cause and effect is not very credible.