The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness was written by Michelle Alexander who is an alumna of law from Vanderbilt University. It was released in 2012. This manuscript discusses issues related to racism and mostly specific matters that involve the African-American men and also mass imprisonment in the United States. The problems of racial discrimination that are discussed in this book blew the lid on the horrible manner that the United States’ criminal justice system works and how the war on drugs has been racially executed. The current criminal justice system is comparable to the Jim Crow where the black people are discriminated in the hand of the whites. This paper is a review and a critique of the book. It will evaluate what is contained in the book and discuss one chapter comprehensively.
The book mainly focuses on mass incarceration of the African Americans. Chapter one is about a brief history of national, social regulations in the US during the times of slavery. In chapter two, Alexander focuses on how the present criminal justice system uses the ‘war on drugs’ notion to justify mass incarceration. In section 3, the key talking point in this chapter as presented by Alexander is how racism has played a large part of bias judgments in the criminal justice system by highlighting some cases. In chapter 4, Alexander explains how commonly African Americans are misjudged by the current government and society at large. Chapter 5 is used as correspondence to show different parallels as well as similarities between the old Jim Crow caste systems and the current system of mass incarceration, which she suggests the creation of a contemporary or new age racial caste system. In the last chapter, Alexander highlights the issues that will influence the present and the future approaches of dealing with mass incarceration of the African Americans in the United States.
Chapters and Evidence
‘The Lockdown’ is the topic that Alexander gave the second chapter of her book. In this chapter, she focused on how the present criminal justice system uses the ‘war on drugs’ notion to justify mass incarceration. In this chapter, she says that not much has changed since the Jim Crow law of the nineteenth century (Alexander, 14). It is placed according to the war on drugs launched when Nixon was in reign similar to the times of old Jim Crow, and it because fully functional during the administration of Reagan.
President Bush also supported it. The significant similarity of this matter is the fact that the rules on the drug war are suspicious hell-bent on marginalizing the African American community. Alexander gives evidence of the statistics of the number of African Americans who have been stopped for random inspection by the police which is too much higher as compared to the whites. The police say that they are safety measures meant to protect the citizens (Woodward, 33). The seizure checks are discriminative, and she says that have hardly changed since the time of Jim Craw. This chapter clearly presents evidence on how War on Drugs has been used to incarcerate and harass the blacks unfairly. He presents incidences where War on Drugs has been used racially.
In Chapter 3 titled ‘The Color of Justice’ Alexander discourses how race impacts the criminal justice system. The key talking point in this chapter as presented by Alexander is how racism has played a large part of bias judgments in the criminal justice system by highlighting some cases. The evidence that she offers is on the case McCleskey v Kemp represented where a black defendant was accused of killing a white victim, and throughout the case, the defendant was most disadvantaged hence making him end up as a victim of the death sentence. It should be noted that throughout the trial the Court received overwhelming evidence that put the defendant on the back foot but all this proof was never substantial to warrant the death penalty in the State of Georgia, this, in turn, made it relevant to allow Alexander to suggest that race played a significant role in the sentencing both on the victim and defendant side (Stuntz, 23).
Other court cases, for example, the Purkett v Elm case similarly put fair justice beyond reach with the racist use of an all-white jury. This was so unfair to the point of Alexander suggesting that prosecutors could get away with ridiculous as well as self-contradictory reasoning to show that they did not primarily come as racist in placing their argument. Other than the above cases Alexander presented many more cases which the courts used racism to make the final judgment. In this chapter, the author succeeds in giving examples where justice systems have been applied unfairly. She has presented several cases where people have been misjudged because of their skin color.
‘The Cruel Hand’ is the title for chapter 4 of the book. In this chapter, Alexander explains how commonly African Americans are misjudged by the current government and society at large. In this chapter gives a detailed account on issues faced by a black individual after being released from prison. After an unfair trial, convicted detainees lose their privileges to public housing, several classes of welfare rights including food stamps in addition to losing employment opportunities due to restraints on acquiring licenses for a superfluity of occupations. These right infringements also include complications in obtaining private transport as well as some forms of public transportation in daily runabouts. This then brings up the merry go round phenomenon which makes the released prisoners find their way back to correctional facilities. Through her explanation on the matter of infringed right Alexander allows readers to see that African Americans are not natural criminals as the new Jim Crow system suggest but victims of circumstances.
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