Civil rights lawyer and activist Michelle looks at the mass incarceration of Black men in the USA during a when racial discrimination has simply changed its face, rather than been abolished.
A disproportionate percentage of the US prison population is comprised of African-American men, and in this book Alexander explains how different legal factors have combined to mean that African-Americans are more likely to be targeted by police, and to receive long jail sentences. Named after the laws that enforced racial segregation in the southern US until the 1960s, The New Jim Crow expertly outlines the anti-Black racial bias of the country’s legal system.
This book is a key reason that Black Lives Matter has focused so much energy on the criminal justice system. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the similarities between the mass incarceration of African-American males in the US, and the “Jim Crow” laws that enforced racial segregation following the civil war. While this segregation technically ended after the civil rights movement, Alexander argues that America’s “war on drugs”, and the way in which it has disproportionately and unfairly penalised African-Americans relative to whites, has created a new form of legal systemic oppression.
This seminal text on how the criminal justice system just perpetuates racial division has been cited in judicial decisions, won numerous awards, helped inspire the Marshall Project's creation, and appeared on many reading lists. If you haven't read it, add it to yours.
Alexander is an American civil rights lawyer and legal scholar; in her ground-breaking book she analyses the rebirth of a race-based caste in the United States: millions of Americans are locked behind bars and relegated to second-class citizenship by the criminal justice system. Devastating.
Civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander reflects on the many ways in which this loophole has been exploited – tracing how and why the number of prisoners in America rose from roughly 350,000 to more than 2 million between the 1970s and 2010. Her central thesis: that the so-called war on drugs launched by President Reagan ultimately “emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialised social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow”
Her clear-eyed assessment, published in the UK almost a decade after it first stunned America, is an indictment of a society that, since the 1980s, has been complicit in the explosion of its prison population from around 300,000 to more than 2 million. Drug convictions have largely fuelled the increase, and an extraordinary number of those new felons have been black. ...Notwithstanding improvements to the US judicial system, this distressing book offers important lessons for all societies that claim colour-blindness but enact policies that scapegoat marginalised groups. Colour-blindness leads to denial, believes Alexander; better to strive for colour-consciousness.