Rob's Reviews > The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
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's review
Apr 08, 2012

it was amazing

Books do not get better than this. Though it took me longer than I'd hoped to get through it, that was in large part because I felt so sad and helpless from reading the dreadful statistics laid out by Dr. Alexander in incessant fashion: "Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino" (p.98). When participants in a 1995 survey were asked to close their eyes for a second and envision a drug user, 95% pictured a black person (p.106). Defendants charged with killing white victims are 4.3 times more likely to receive the death penalty than defendants charged with killing black victims (p.110). African-American juveniles are more than six times more likely to be committed to detention than whites for identical crimes (p.118). Because felons are precluded from serving on juries, "about 30 percent of black men are automatically banned from jury service for life" (p.121). Concluded one study: "White people ... are simply not perceived as drug offenders by Seattle police officers" (p.127).

Her thesis is that the 30-plus-year War on Drugs has created a racial caste system, a description of our criminal justice system that most Americans will not want to accept. But the facts are not in dispute, and all of them buttress her claims.

This is a book that should be widely read. It is stunning, thought-provoking, and extraordinary in its sweeping critique of mass incarceration in the United States. Get this book, and give it to your friends and family when you're done.
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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Sirotkin And a black kid is 9 times more likely than a white kid to have a parent in prison, because the War on Drugs has destroyed the African American family:

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