this is a remarkable book. michelle alexander's writing should be a model to legal scholars: she has a clear and compelling thesis, which she lays out succinctly and argues for in full throughout the main chapters of the book. briefly: mass incarceration works in similar ways as Jim Crow by creating a caste system, supported by poor whites encouraged to vote against their class interest. alexander works step by step through the history of the war on drugs, the rolling back of 4th amendment restrictions on searches and seizures, and legal discriminations against individuals with felony convictions in housing, employment and public benefits.
some of this may be old hat to activists, but even the most jaded should get something out of the way alexander puts together all these parts into one coherent whole - if nothing else, the final chapter calling for a wide social movement that transcends our current civil rights paradigm should be required reading for any lawyer or law student who wants to get involved in this work. but of course, this book also has the potential to help others see how this system of oppression works and realize that the drug law regime most of the country lives under isn't making anyone safer and is designed to institutionalize racial bias. anyone who cares about this issue should buy this book, read it, and then lend it to everyone they know.