The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

672 Words3 Pages
The book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” (“The New Jim Crow”) hits on many significant points concerning the criminal justice system and the systemically racial elements that have been perpetuated through various laws. As argued in the book, the “War on Drugs” has been used to perpetuate racial discrimination against African Americans since the 1980s and the Reagan Administration. My personal reflection on the book comes from a legal perspective. Within the world of legal education little if any discussion is had concerning the impact of the law. There is intense discussion on what the law is and where the law could go but in terms of the impact of certain laws such as that within the “War on Drugs” I believe the mass incarceration of African Americans in relation to drug laws was mentioned twice at most and only in passing. In terms of what could be changed there was no mention of the sociological elements at play or that the disparate impact was due to the law themselves. Even within the context of law school the discussion focused on the almost implicit assumption that minorities were simply more prone to criminal violence. In “The New Jim Crow” various critiques to the current systems were addressed. The abuse and financial incentives undertaken by police departments corrupt the system. Racial biases increase the probability that African Americans and other minorities such as Latinos will be stopped and their property seized. Although legally “white” individuals are more likely to sell and partake in illegal drugs, African Americans and other minorities manage to fill the prisons and be targets of police. Police departments violate 4th amendment protections to meet this end and their ... ... middle of paper ... ... be read by all potential prosecutors, legislators, or judges. The negative and disparate impact of the “War on Drugs” has its roots in law and in jurisprudence. Yet in the legal field little to no discussion is made concerning the disparate impact and instead it is passed off as being a problem with no logical solution. After reading the book, the problem with mass incarceration of being racially discriminatory makes much more sense and there seems to be a logical solution. In order to stop mass incarceration and the disproportionate impact on African American communities, laws perpetuated under the “War on Drugs” need to be, at a minimum, curtailed to decrease the interest of law enforcement in the economic benefits and also to allow civil rights allegations to be allowed under the criminal justice system. Alexander made a very compelling argument in her book.
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