The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Book - 2010
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As the United States celebrates the nation's "triumph over race" with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status, much like their grandparents before them, who lived under an explicit system of control.--Jacket.
Publisher: New York : New Press, 2010
ISBN: 9781595581037
Characteristics: xi, 290 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

"Michelle Alexander’s book connects slavery, Jim Crow, and the war on drugs as racist systems of control. She provides historical context for policies that allowed police to operate with little oversight – stopping, searching, and seizing people of color at will. Ms. Alexander effectively ... Read More »

List - Mass Incarceration
HCL_reentry Sep 15, 2016

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community - and all of us - to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

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Jun 14, 2019

A thought-provoking book. Well researched. I no longer claim to be colour blind.

Nov 05, 2018

This book amazingly explains the inequality in today's justice system. Michelle Alexander is a talented writer that uses realistic reasonings to support her opinions. The New Jim Crow is a highly impactful book that will spark a discussion and will question yourself what kind of justice system we are living in. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to learn about the persistently avoided problems we face.

Nov 04, 2018

This book is very thorough on discussing the creation and explanation caste system resulting from the war on drugs. The author does seem to dwell on certain topics and opposing views were not mentioned in the book. It is written persuasively more than how it claims to be about starting a discussion. I enjoyed it over all as the author has a strong voice and has adept writing skills.

Sep 22, 2018

The New Jim Crow massively oversimplifies issues in the American criminal justice system. It is perplexing how this book has received the hype that it has. It essentially cries racism and blames every issue within the system on that single claim. It is hard to take this work as an objective analysis of the criminal justice system when so many important aspects are ignored to advance the author's arguments. Alexander seldom acknowledges the all too real damage that narcotics inflict upon communities and our society as a whole. She also omits examples of "real" failed drug wars that have taken place as close as central America. If the topics covered in this book interest you I really recommend reading other books because this one simply does not paint a very accurate nor complete picture of the subject matter. Below are a couple of recommendations.

A War that Cant Be Won: Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs
by Payan, Tony; Staudt, Kathleen; Kruszewski, Z. Anthony

Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform
by Pfaff, John

strangegazelle Aug 24, 2018

Exceptionally well-researched look at how mass incarceration in the U.S. has deliberately created a new racial under-caste. It's truthful, timely and in many ways prescriptive - it's one of those books that everyone should read.

Aug 22, 2018

The author says it is meant to be a discussion starter. She is head of the Racial Justice department of northern California's ACLU. Her thesis is that there Jim Crow laws have been replaced with a racial caste system. Her husband a federal prosecutor, sees it differently. This book really isn't meant to be read by yourself. You need other opinions as you read it. If you are in a book club or even a progressive church Sunday School class, this would be a great discussion starter. My favorite Sunday School class was in a Salem Oregon Methodist church, 1991, where we discussed what how did our actions now reflect our Christianity. Each class had a different focus, like responding to terrorism or working with Habitat for Humanity. I could see this book being used in that class or in an AP high school class.

vm510 Jun 28, 2018

The New Jim Crow is an instant classic of the genre. Since publication, I have seen this book and its arguments cited in so much media I've consumed (books, documentaries, podcasts). I am glad I finally got to experience the source text myself. For its historical analysis, for the way it traces slavery to the convict lease system to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, for how clearly it's explained how assigning criminality functions + creates a new social undercaste, this book is crucial.

Jun 08, 2018

"Hundreds of years ago, our nation put those considered less than human in shackles; less than one hundred years ago, we relegated them to the other side of town; today we put them in cages. Once released, they find that a heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon them."

"As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out says far more about ourselves than it does about them."

"The widespread and mistaken belief that racial animus is necessary for the creation and maintenance of racialized systems of social control is the most important reason that we, as a nation, have remained in deep denial [about mass incarceration]."

"It is fair to say that we have witnessed an evolution in the United States from a racial caste system based entirely on exploitation (slavery), to one based largely on subordination (Jim Crow), to one defined by marginalization (mass incarceration)."

"Drug crime in this country us understood to be black and brown, and it is because drug crime is racially defined in the public consciousness that the electorate has not cared much what happens to drug criminals--at least not the way they would have cared if the criminals were understood to be white."

Alexander argues that reductions in legal avenues provided to black prisoners; Supreme Court antagonism toward racial bias in cases; and more people of color getting taken up by law enforcement forces despite the fact that more white people commit drug crimes, leads to a situation in which mass incarceration does not serve to reduce crime but to induce racialized social control.

If you retain an ounce of social justice in your psyche, you will probably want to repeatedly throw this book across the room, but not because it is poorly written. It is because it is so well researched and argued that it boggles the mind that this reader could have been so blind as not to see it. I wonder how well book could be countered.

May 10, 2018

The book is way to repetitive, but then glosses over some topics. could have been much shorter. Even so very interesting. New book with new information would be good.

Mar 22, 2018

This is a very important book to read, and I'd recommend it for that reason. I wanted it to say even more though. The book is repetitive, but then glosses over some topics. There could have been more about juveniles being charged as adults, jury selection, funding for public defenders, and the militarization of police departments. The book is only 8 years old, but already seems dated. I hope there is a second edition at some point that looks at how the Black Lives Matter movement, social media, police body cameras, and the Trump presidency have affected the rates of mass incarceration and public perception.

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Oct 22, 2015

“Claims that mass incarceration is analogous to Jim Crow will fall on deaf ears and alienate potential allies if advocates fail to make clear that the claim is not meant to suggest or imply that supporters of the current system are racist in the way Americans have come to understand that term. Race plays a major role—indeed a defining role—in the current system but not because of what is commonly understood as old-fashioned, hostile bigotry.”


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