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This article draws from several distinct scholarly literatures to outline a new framework emphasizing the spatial dimensions of mass incarceration in postwar American society. First, the analysis re-contextualizes the nation’s vast prison expansion in light of disinvestment and destabilization in black urban neighborhoods during the immediate postwar decades. Second, the paper recasts the geographic shift toward prison development in economically depressed, rural areas as an opportunistic, but ultimately ineffective, attempt to counter rural poverty. The result is a prison apparatus that not only criminalizes urban poverty and upholds racial hierarchies but also links the perceived economic stability and political power of lower-class, rural whites to the continued penal confinement of poor, urban blacks.