Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is one of the best read on mass incarceration I’ve read. The book discusses the evolution and present state between people of color (i.e., Blacks, Latinos) and the prison industrial complex. She documents Ronald Reagan’ 1982 defective call for a “War on Drugs” and how the prison movement evolved from it.
She also discusses how the collapse of urban industrial job opportunities, poor public education systems, and crack cocaine ignited the get ‘tough on crime’ campaign that exist today. Thus crime was evil and the drug known as ‘Crack’ was the archenemy of the republic. The author points how the circular negative images of color faces (i.e., Blacks Latinos) on nightly television help middle-class Whites and others join with careless politicians to support paramilitary forces against urban residents and their crime-ridden communities. The crime intervention program was directed at low-level non-violent drug offenders in color neighborhoods across America.
Blacks and Latinos as the author points out became the target of federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations although Whites sold and used more drugs than both groups combine. The author suggested the thirty-five year drug war on non-violent Black/Brown drug offenders has created a permanent undercaste, (i.e., ex-felons). Consequently by being labelled an ex-felons discrimination in housing, employment, education, and health care is perfectly legal.
Although Whites use and sell more drugs, the New Jim Crow system ushered upon color families and communities massive amounts of arrest and incarceration. These families laced with high unemployment, no job training programs, and poor public education became perfect targets for the new undercaste system suggested by the author. Felons are never released from the criminal justice system as their brand follows them across the lifespan. I hope you read the book and reflect how untold numbers of Black/Brown families and communities have become the New Jim Crow system.
The Invisible Dragon