Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. This book explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world's leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernandez documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration.But City of Inmates is also a chronicle of resilience and rebellion, documenting how targeted peoples and communities have always fought back. They busted out of jail, forced Supreme Court rulings, advanced revolution across bars and borders, and, as in the summer of 1965, set fire to the belly of the city. With these acts those who fought the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles altered the course of history in the city, the borderlands, and beyond. This book recounts how the dynamics of conquest met deep reservoirs of rebellion as Los Angeles became the City of Inmates, the nation's carceral core. It is a story that is far from over.
About the Author
Kelly Lytle Hernandez is professor of history and African American studies at UCLA. She is also interim director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. One of the nation's leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration, she is author of the award-winning book Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010) and City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Currently, Professor Lytle Hernandez is the research lead for the Million Dollar Hoods project, which maps how much is spent on incarceration per neighborhood in Los Angeles County.
What People are Saying About This
City of Inmates is a pathbreaking work that not only considers together the histories of the regimes of domestic incarceration and immigration detention, the major mechanisms that plague the condition of African Americans and Latino/as in our time. It also incorporates histories of incarceration and removal of Native Americans, Chinese, and poor whites as modes of 'elimination' by white settler colonialism. City of Inmates is a bold work that will surprise and provoke.Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects
In this compelling and comprehensive history of incarceration in Los Angeles, Hernandez demonstrates how authorities—whether Spanish, Mexican, or American—have long used imprisonment as a tool to control labor and immigration. Covering nearly two centuries of incarceration, Hernandez masterfully synthesizes the history of immigration and deportation, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of settler colonialism.Margaret Jacobs, author of White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880–1940