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Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling
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Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  472 ratings  ·  99 reviews
"Do not underestimate the power of the book you are holding in your hands."
—Michelle Alexander

More than 2 million people are now imprisoned in the United States, producing the highest rate of incarceration in the world. How did this happen? As the director of The Sentencing Project, Marc Mauer has long been one of the country’s foremost experts on sentencing policy, race,
Paperback, 111 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by The New Press (first published August 28th 2012)
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 ·  472 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars

This is the graphic representation of why there are over 2 million people incarcerated in the United State - the highest incarceration rate in the world. It starts at the turn of the 19th century and follows though slavery and rehabilitation and the two tier system. It encompasses the war on drugs, racial disparity, and the many laws passed in reference to crime. The three strike law and random crimes committed by children and how they should be prosecuted. It also delves into the various
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic, ya
SO happy to see this topic covered in this format, but the lack of citations and references is troubling. It was obviously well-researched, and I'm guessing the original text had a lengthy reference list--where did it go? ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Previewed this for my library in a NYPL teacher set... will definitely buy, because it's a very accessible presentation of the mass incarceration crisis for middle school. But I wish it was in a larger format, because the woodcut style art is sometimes too dense on the page at this trim size. A color version could potentially help with this too, since some key text is very artfully integrated into the panel design, but it gets muddied at this size. ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish I would have known about this graphic novel when I was teaching U.S. Government. It’s an incredible resource for understanding the history of incarceration in America. It’s a timeline of events, politics, economics, presidential administrations and statistics that illustrate the injustices of our justice system.
Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling was an accidental find at the library, but I'm game for any graphic novel that has Michelle Alexander's name attached to it. (She wrote the book's foreward.) While I was not familiar with Marc Mauer's original book Race to Incarcerate, first published in 1999 (I think), I'm happy to see it being added to the (short) list of nonfiction, "academic" texts being converted to graphic novel form. (Bill Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner's To Teach: The Journey, in ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a FANTASTIC resource. It clearly and compellingly (that's a word right?) lays out the case for how our criminal justice system is fuckeddd. I haven't read the non-adapted version of Race to Incarcerate but I have read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness so a lot of this information was not necessarily new to me, but I liked the layout and structure of this, and the rough black & white illustrations & graphs really drive home the information.

I know this is an
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent. This lays out how the prison industrial complex came to be, in a very unpretentious and clear way. It never tries to preach, rather it lays it out in a way that any rational person would at least question, if not be disgusted with how people end up behind bars. The artwork is great too. Recommended.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
The information in this book was eye-opening, heartbreaking, and infuriating. It takes a graphic retelling to make the growth of prisons and incarceration rates in America to even get my head around the numbers and the disparities by race and class. It is definitely worth reading and sharing with younger audiences (high school students).
Ashley Adams
A graphic novel version of Marc Mauer's in-depth study of the prison system in the United States. Mauer's research covers the rise of the prison system, focusing primarily on legislation since the 1970s, and the reasons behind disproportionate rates of incarcerated African-Americans. Sabrina Jones' graphic novel stylings help make this sobering reality more digestible. Essential reading. ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I personally really struggled with this one. It was a depressing topic and in the current political climate, it made me feel helpless. It’s something that needs support to change and the idea of having another cause is so overwhelming. I feel like it would be a fantastic book to read in a high school or college class.
Ms. Ahart
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Previewed this for my library in a NYPL teacher set... will definitely buy, because it's a very accessible presentation of the mass incarceration crisis for middle school. But I wish it was in a larger format, because the woodcut style art is sometimes too dense on the page at this trim size. A color version could potentially help with this too, since some key text is very artfully integrated into the panel design, but it gets muddied at this size. ...more
Cherie Nef
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction graphic novel is about the United States’ obsession with sending people, particularly people of color, to prison. The number of prisoners per 100,000 people is higher in the United States than any other country. This book goes through the history of confinement from the early days of the United States to today. It examines politics and politicians. It considers the social reasons for incarceration and how race is a major contributor to the amount of time spent in prison. It exam ...more
Ryan Miller
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I haven't read the original. I'm sure it's more comprehensive, but I don't know that it could be more persuasive. This graphic retelling of Race To Incarcerate includes both unassailable facts (which are true, but often fail to convince in the court of public opinion), and powerful anecdotes (which can be misleading, but much more convincing). In a nutshell, the prison system locks away people of color in a ridiculously disproportionate manner compared to white folks, and disproportionately for ...more
Chris Pierson
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I simply could not put this book down. The format (graphic novel) will undoubtedly add to the number of readers who have embraced Mark Mauer's work and know of the work of the Sentencing Project. This book will also make the topics it addresses (Criminal Justice, Mass Incarceration, The War on Drugs) accessible to a new and important audience of readers. I received this book as a gift yesterday and will likely share it with others. Thanks, Dear friend, for your your wise selection of a gift. ...more
Brandon White
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love graphic retelling a of historical and socio-political topics because the creatively make information more accessible to WAY more people, and this is one of those books. It does a great job breaking down the prison industry complex, the war on drugs, the people who constructed them and the black and brown folk who suffered because of it. It's a murky topic made crystal clear. I suggest reading this graphic retelling before getting into more heady but important books about the same topic. I ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
With the help of Sabrina Jones, this graphic adaptation of Mauer's Race to Incarcerate is both readable and jam-packed with information about our country's criminal justice system. I am not embarrassed to admit that I would not have been able to read the original but this comic version (designed as an introduction for teens) is perfect for me. The only thing stopping me from giving it 5 stars is the lack of footnotes/citations for the numerous statistics included in this analysis. ...more
Mark Victor Young
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Really harrowing statistics about the prison system in the States. Could call this graphic non-fiction in that the stark black and white images lent weight to the book's themes of race discrimination and horrible prison conditions. Calls into question the whole notion of "rehabilitation" of criminals and why we're locking people up in the first place. The research was impeccable and presented in a simple, easily digestible format with this "graphic retelling." ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The 1999 book is updated and adapted into a graphic novel. The adaptation does a wonderful job of organizing and presenting a lot of information. And there is something about about the illustrations that add impact to the statistics. Maybe they put a face to them, even if the face is drawn by hand. Furthermore, it's an entertaining read. The reader is fully absorbed in the story. It's a very powerful and eye-opening read, and one I would love to see teens reading. ...more
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love so much that this was made. Everyone should read this. And then put it on their shelf in a prominent place so it can be a constant reminder. And so they can pick it up and read it again on occasion. The content is expertly realized in the drawings. I want some of them as posters on my wall in my office. Awesome!
Cecily Sailer
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent illustrated primer on America’s tragic and harmful system of mass incarceration. A great place to ground your learning on this topic!
Tippy Jackson
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics, race, comic, 2018
This comic was very unorganized. It's supposed to be a retelling of The New Jim Crow, which was a wonderful book, but this comic fell short in a number of ways. It left out some of the most important arguments or glossed over them while spending more time on less important things. Important details, that could easily change how you think about the topic, show up too late in the book. There were some conclusions drawn from the data that I think were questionable. And also no citations, so I had t ...more
Steven Santoyo
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to this book in 2015 when I enrolled myself into a history class at UT-Austin on mass incarceration. Re-reading this book this week was refreshing and necessary. This graphic-retelling presents itself like a graphic novel, only briefer and more to the point. From the inception of incarceration to present day policies, "Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling" is a must-read for anyone interested in learning more about the U.S. prison system. Through 107 pages of impressive illu ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn't what I was expecting, but it wasn't bad. I recognize that many people will connect with it, but I'm not one of them. (And that isn't b/c these issues haven't affected my life.) I think it makes important issue, and talking points, accessible to a wider audience. This topic deserves to be dissected and considered more so that it is presently by the average American, whatever "average" means. I didn't always agree with the book's presentation, slant, or conclusions, but I definite ...more
This should be required reading in every high school in this country. But that will never happen because the people who make money and gain power by the incarceration of people of color are the ones who have the most money and power and also the most to lose if this information is taught to everyone. Plus, this "Graphic Retelling" of the original text is extremely accessible.

It's appalling. And mind-blowing. The levels that politicians have stooped to jail people of color (mostly younger, black
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I greatly appreciated the message this book puts forth about the need to reform the justice system. It is a conversation that needs to take place more often in America. I wish that it had been written in a more modern tone though. It really felt like I was reading a lecture written in propaganda style posters. It was informative but hard to follow at times. It is definitely a discussion starter though. I feel as though much of what was talked about in this book should be discussed in the classro ...more
This short graphic book provides a brief of the history of prisons and makes a clear case for criminal justice reform. Not only does the current system not work (if deterring crim is the goal) but it is clearly biased against those who are poor and/or BIPOC. Interestingly, it paints a fairly positive image of law enforcement and instead puts the onus on lawyers, judges, and political leaders for the failure of the system. it also does not discuss the prison-industrial complex and the for-profit ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super educational! This book lays out a timeline of the growth of the prison industry and the policy behind it over the last ~60 years. The topic is obviously very depressing, but it ends with numerous ways that individuals and institutions can help. Very fact-dense, which is kind of refreshing in the current political discussion. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it is a graphic novel and it’s a little hard to follow the word flow on some of the pages. Highly recommend f ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A telling and informative easy graphic nonfiction read, depicting much of what is covered in the documentary 13th. The industrial prison complex, racism, and the cycle of poverty as well as rehabilitation vs. punishment and the history of prisons in America and Europe are explored to give a full picture of the issue.
4.5 stars

This comic adaptation of Marc Mauer's Race to Incarcerate is a must-read for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of the issues with the US prison system. It covers a lot of the basic information, important statistics, political and historical facts, and more. This is an ideal read for the layperson who isn't sure where to start reading.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is important enough that it should have been done in color. The black and white and the style of the drawings makes it seem older, which can make it seem out of date and therefore less relevant. This topic is still very crucial for Americans to learn, and we should be actively correcting the misconceptions that most people hold about prisons in US. Quick and enlightening read.
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