Mass Incarceration In The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander

791 Words4 Pages
In her book “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander presents the evidence that mass incarceration, as brought forth by the drug war, is a mere continuation of the discriminatory nature of the Jim Crow Laws in the post civil war era and of slavery before that. Alexander’s argument hinges on the idea that this new way of discriminating against minorities is equally systematic to the Jim Crow Laws and Slavery. She then relates this argument with the decrease in limitations of the police force, the disproportionately high number of minorities prosecuted with these powers, and the skewed justice system. Alexander first addresses “the absence of significant restraints on the exercise of police discretion”(pg. 61) as a result of the introduction…show more content…
She notes that despite “the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino”(pg. 98). By presenting facts such as this, she attempts to dispel the notion that the reason for this disparity is that minorities are committing more crimes. Next, police forces, Alexander states, are incentivised monetarily to keep high levels of arrests as part of the drug war, so the police are thus encouraged to target the ghettos and minority communities, as “tactics that would be political suicide in an upscale white suburb are not even newsworthy in poor black and brown communities” and that “so long as the number of drug arrests increases or at least remains high, federal dollars continue to flow in and fill the department 's coffers”(pg. 124). Alexander then regards the ingenious nature of this new system in that “defenders of mass incarceration… insist that our criminal justice system, whatever its past sins, now largely fair and nondiscriminatory”(pg. 100). As long as these laws appear to affect everyone, they cannot be proven as being racially…show more content…
By approaching the systematic discrimination of mass incarceration for multiple sides, that of the decreasing limitations on police officers, the disproportionate amount of minorities being represented in prison despite the roughly equivalent use of drugs between the different races, and the attorneys and courts that are biased against those of the minority communities, Alexander makes a compelling argument to support her
Open Document