This book presents some interesting ideas on violence. I am particularly keen on the "anti-prison." I had the good fortune to be in a working group wiThis book presents some interesting ideas on violence. I am particularly keen on the "anti-prison." I had the good fortune to be in a working group with the author at an Institute of Medicine meeting last June and was able to futher benefit from his lifelong experience in the field in person. Anyone who's professional life is centered on the reduction or prevention of violence should pick this up....more
This book is exceedingly dry (but I suppose that is to be expected in a government report) and somewhat dated, but it does provide a solid backgroundThis book is exceedingly dry (but I suppose that is to be expected in a government report) and somewhat dated, but it does provide a solid background on the work that has been done to date in the peer-reviewed world to better understand and prevent violence....more
This is an extremely powerful book. As Cornel West states, it is a must-read for all people of conscience. Read it.
Through my work with CeaseFire ChicThis is an extremely powerful book. As Cornel West states, it is a must-read for all people of conscience. Read it.
Through my work with CeaseFire Chicago I've heard first hand about how the War on Drugs has affected the lives of black and brown men and women in Chicago and many other U.S. cities. But Michelle Alexander's book is the first time the I've seen the War on Drugs, and the epidemic of mass incarceration it drives, explained so comprehensively, complete with an abundance of data.
Did you know that white youth are more likely to engage in drug crime than people of color? Yet, in some states black men have been admitted to prison on drug charges at rates of 20 to 50 times greater than those of white men. Alexander notes, "The racial bias inherent in the drug war is a major reason that 1 in every 14 black men was behind bars in 2006, compared with 1 in 106 white men. For young black men, the statistics are even worse. One in 9 black men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five was behind bars in 2006" (p. 100).
Alexander quotes a black minister in Waterloo, Mississippi, with whom I agree: "Felony is the new N-word. They don't have to call you a nigger anymore. They just say you're a felon. In every ghetto you see alarming number of young men with felony convictions. Once you have a felony stamp, your hope for employment, for any kind of integration into society, it begins to fade out. Today's lynching is a felony charge. Today's lynching is incarceration. Today's lynch mobs are professionals. They have a badge; they have a law degree. A felony is a modern way of saying, 'I'm going to hang you up and burn you.' Once you get that F, you're on fire" (p. 164).
We must end this system of control and social exclusion. We must acknowledge the humanity and dignity of all persons. As James Baldwin so rightly wrote: "We cannot be free until they are free."
That said, I am humbled by all that must be accomplished to realize an equitable future (see pages 232-233). Alexander did the hard work of starting this important conversation; however, I wish she would have given us some recommendations about how to move forward. I am ready to join the movement to end mass incarceration. How do we get started? I'm ready to take the longview and do some heavy lifting....more