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The dangers of innocent children: Strangers, families and the carceral state.


There's this notion that the family is falling apart, and a lot of it has an economic dimension to it - that the family can no longer fend for itself. So the family needs to be shored up, and one way to do that is to build up the carceral state, to manage those who threaten the family, and to safeguard the family from these putative moral threats. To allow particular families to reproduce particular children who thus need to safeguarded.

Historian Paul M. Renfro explains how child abduction panics of the 1970s and 80s bolstered the scope and surveillance of the carceral state, and centered the American nuclear family as the prime factor in neoliberal politics and its punitive edge.

Paul is author of Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State from Oxford University Press.

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Paul M. Renfo

Paul M. Renfro is Assistant Professor of History at Florida State University.


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