Released in 1965, the Moynihan Report traced the severe social and economic distress of poor urban African Americans to high rates of single-parenthood. Against Moynihan’s calls for social investment in poor inner-city communities, politics moved in a punitive direction, driving massive growth in the prison population. The authors document the emergence of mass incarceration and describe its significance for African American family life. The era of mass incarceration can be understood as a new stage in the history of American racial inequality. Because of its recent arrival, the social impact of mass incarceration remains poorly understood. The authors conclude by posing several key research questions that can illuminate the effects of dramatic growth in the American penal system.