Felber says prison activism was central to the black liberation struggles after the second world war and was MUCH MORE than a result of civil rights workers being held at Parchman; it was not derivative of the civil rights movement. Also, the modern carceral state wasn’t just conservative backlash; it was built in negotiation with demands for rights.
Sherry says the “punitive turn” in American life had its roots in the counterinsurgency of the 60s. The disagreement about Viet Nam caused a legitimation crisis for the state, and they just had to come down. Also, the police wanted to professionalize, not to be the bumbling old cops of stereotype any longer. And so on. He’s differently interesting than Felber, and not as germane to my current piece, but he has good points on how accustomed we now are to living in a punitive state.
Note also that Berger, in my bibliography, explains that Michelle Alexander paints in broad strokes, in several ways. And there is a lawyer who is explaining coloniality and modernity in the Guardian.