The New Jim Crow
||This article's criticism section may lend undue weight to opinions of two obscure scholars. (May 2016)|
|Subject||Criminal justice, race discrimination, race relations|
|Publisher||The New Press|
|LC Class||HV9950 .A437|
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States, but Alexander notes that the discrimination faced by African-American males is prevalent among other minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Alexander's central premise, from which the book derives its title, is that "mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow."
Though the conventional point of view holds that discrimination has mostly ended with the civil rights movement reforms of the 1960s, Alexander posits that the U.S. criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a primary tool for enforcing traditional, as well as new, modes of discrimination and repression. These new modes of racism have led to not only the highest rate of incarceration in the world, but also an even greater imprisonment of African American men. Were present trends to continue, Alexander writes, the United States will imprison one-third of its African American population. When combined with the fact that whites are more likely to commit drug crimes than people of color, the issue becomes clear for Alexander: "The primary targets of [the penal system's] control can be defined largely by race."
This, ultimately, leads Alexander to believe that mass incarceration is "a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow." The culmination of this social control is what Alexander calls a "racial caste system," a type of stratification wherein African-Americans are kept in an inferior position. Its emergence, she believes, is a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement. It is because of this that Alexander argues for issues with mass incarceration to be addressed as issues of racial justice and civil rights. To approach these matters as anything but would be to fortify this new racial caste. Thus, Alexander aims to mobilize the civil rights community to move the incarceration issue to the forefront of its agenda and to provide factual information, data, arguments and a point of reference for those interested in pursuing the issue. Her broader goal is the revamping of the prevailing mentality regarding human rights, equality and equal opportunities in America, to prevent future cyclical recurrence of what she sees as "racial control under changing disguise." According to the author, what has been altered since the collapse of Jim Crow is not so much the basic structure of US society, as the language used to justify its affairs. She argues that when people of color are disproportionately labeled as "criminals," this allows the unleashing of a whole range of legal discrimination measures in employment, housing, education, public benefits, voting rights, jury duty, and so on.
Alexander explains that it took her years to become fully aware and convinced of the phenomena she describes, despite her professional civil rights background. She expects similar reluctance and disbelief on the part of many of her readers. She believes that the problems besetting African American communities are not merely a passive, collateral side effect of poverty, limited educational opportunity or other factors, but a consequence of purposeful government policies. Alexander has concluded that mass incarceration policies, which were swiftly developed and implemented, are a "comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow."
Alexander contends that in 1982 the Reagan administration began an escalation of the War on Drugs, purportedly as a response to a crack cocaine crisis in black ghettos, which was (she claims) announced well before crack cocaine arrived in most inner city neighborhoods. During the mid-1980s, as the use of crack cocaine increased to epidemic levels in these neighborhoods, federal drug authorities publicized the problem, using scare tactics to generate support for their already-declared escalation. The government's successful media campaign made possible an unprecedented expansion of law enforcement activities in America's inner city neighborhoods, and this aggressive approach fueled widespread belief in conspiracy theories that posited government plans to destroy the black population.
In fact, in 1998 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) acknowledged that during the 1980s the Contra faction covertly supported by the US in Nicaragua had been involved in smuggling cocaine into the US and distributing it in US cities. Drug Enforcement Administration efforts to expose these illegal activities were blocked by Reagan officials, which contributed to an explosion of crack cocaine consumption in US inner city neighborhoods. More aggressive enforcement of federal drug laws resulted in a dramatic increase in street level arrests for possession. Disparate sentencing policies (the crack cocaine v. powdered cocaine penalty disparity was 100-1 by weight and remains 18-1 even after recent reform efforts) meant that a disproportionate number of inner city residents were charged with felonies and sentenced to long prison terms, because they tended to purchase the more affordable crack version of cocaine, rather than the powdered version commonly consumed in the suburbs.
Alexander argues that the War on Drugs has a devastating impact on inner city African American communities, on a scale entirely out of proportion to the actual dimensions of criminal activity taking place within these communities. During the past three decades, the US prison population has exploded from 300,000 to more than two million, with the majority of the increase due to drug convictions. This has led to the US having the world's highest incarceration rate. The US incarceration rate is eight times that of Germany, a comparatively developed large democracy. Alexander claims that the US is unparalleled in the world in focusing enforcement of federal drug laws on racial and ethnic minorities. In the capital city of Washington, D.C. three out of four young African American males are expected to serve time in prison. While studies show that quantitatively Americans of different races consume illegal drugs at similar rates,[verification needed] in some states black men have been sent to prison on drug charges at rates twenty to fifty times those of white men. The proportion of African American men with some sort of criminal record approaches 80% in some major US cities, and they become marginalized, part of what Alexander calls "a growing and permanent undercaste."
Alexander maintains that this undercaste is hidden from view, invisible within a maze of rationalizations, with mass incarceration its most serious manifestation. Alexander borrows from the term "racial caste," as it is commonly used in scientific literature, to create "undercaste," denoting a "stigmatized racial group locked into inferior position by law and custom." By mass incarceration she refers to the entire web of laws, rules, policies and customs that make up the criminal justice system and which serve as a gateway to permanent marginalization in the undercaste. Once released from prison, new members of this undercaste face a "hidden underworld of legalized discrimination and permanent social exclusion."
According to Alexander, crime and punishment are poorly correlated, and the present US criminal justice system has effectively become a system of social control unparalleled in world history, with its targets largely defined by race. The rate of incarceration in the US has soared, while its crime rates have generally remained similar to those of other Western countries, where incarceration rates have remained stable. The current rate of incarceration in the US is six to ten times greater than in other industrialized nations, and Alexander maintains that this disparity is not related to the actual rates of crime or their increase, but can be traced mostly to the artificially invoked War on Drugs and its associated discriminatory policies. The US embarked on an unprecedented expansion of its juvenile detention and prison systems.
Alexander notes that the civil rights community has been reluctant to get involved in this issue, concentrating primarily on protecting affirmative action gains, which mainly benefit an elite group of high-achieving African Americans. At the other end of the social spectrum are the young black men who are under active control of the criminal justice system (currently in prison, or on parole or probation)—approximately one-third of the young black men in the US. Criminal justice was not listed as a top priority of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in 2007 and 2008, or of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2009. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been involved in legal action, and grassroots campaigns have been organized, however Alexander feels that generally there is a lack of appreciation of the enormity of the crisis. According to her, mass incarceration is "the most damaging manifestation of the backlash against the Civil Rights Movement," and those who feel that the election of Barack Obama represents the ultimate "triumph over race," and that race no longer matters, are dangerously misguided.
Alexander writes that Americans are ashamed of their racial history, and therefore avoid talking about race, or even class, so the terms used in her book will seem strangely unfamiliar to many. Americans want to believe that everybody is capable of upward mobility, given enough effort on his or her part; this assumption forms a part of the national collective self-image. Alexander points out that a large percentage of African Americans are blocked by the discriminatory practices of an ostensibly colorblind criminal justice system, which end up creating an undercaste where upward mobility is severely constrained.
Alexander believes that the existence of the New Jim Crow system is not disproved by the election of Barack Obama and other examples of exceptional achievement among African Americans, but on the contrary the New Jim Crow system depends on such exceptionalism. She contends that the system does not require overt racial hostility or bigotry on the part of another racial group or groups. Indifference is sufficient to support the system. Alexander argues that the system reflects an underlying racial ideology and will not be significantly disturbed by half-measures such as laws mandating shorter prison sentences. Like its predecessors, the new system of racial control has been largely immune from legal challenge. She writes that a human tragedy is unfolding under our watch, and The New Jim Crow is intended to stimulate a much-needed national discussion "about the role of the criminal justice system in creating and perpetuating racial hierarchy in the United States."
Darryl Pinckney, writing in the New York Review of Books, called the book one that would "touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don't know how to face... [Alexander] is not the first to offer this bitter analysis, but NJC is striking in the intelligence of her ideas, her powers of summary, and the force of her writing."
Jennifer Schuessler, writing in the New York Times, notes that Alexander presents voluminous evidence in the form of both statistics and legal cases to argue that the tough-on-crime policies begun under the Nixon administration and amplified under Reagan's war on drugs have devastated black America, where nearly one-third of black men are likely to spend time in prison during their lifetimes, and where many of these men will be second-class citizens afterwards. Schuessler also notes that Alexander's book goes further, by asserting that the increase in incarceration was a deliberate effort to roll back civil rights gains, rather than a true response to increased rates of violent crime. Schuessler notes that the book has galvanized both black and white readers, some of whom view the work as giving voice to deep feelings that the criminal justice system is stacked against blacks, while others might question its portrayal of anti-crime policies as primarily motivated by racial animus.
Forbes wrote that Alexander "looks in detail at what economists usually miss," and "does a fine job of truth-telling, pointing the finger where it rightly should be pointed: at all of us, liberal and conservative, white and black."
The book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, saying that Alexander "offers an acute analysis of the effect of mass incarceration upon former inmates" who will be legally discriminated against for the rest of their lives, and described the book as "carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable."
Influence on society
Alexander's thoughts on the caste system and racial discrimination in the United States have been influential. On Alexander's web page for the New Jim Crow, the public has created groups to take action against the caste system, such as the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a group committed to raising awareness and building movements from a faith perspective, The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, an organization dedicated to structure a movement with the goal of replacing prisons and lifelong discrimination with caring communities, and the Formerly Incarcerated Peoples Movement, a group dedicated to achieving the full rebuilding of civil and human rights for all people, especially those who have been convicted by the criminal justice system. Alexander was able to reach a large group of people with The New Jim Crow, all of whom aim to work together to bring an end to all forms of hate and discrimination directed against people of color.
Readers of Alexander's book, like Dennis Moore, can relate to the events it details. Moore's son is one of many young African American men sent to prison. Moore recalls that seeing his son in chains inside the courtroom reminded him of when blacks were first forced to America from their homeland.
Moore is not the only one to speak out about the mass incarceration of young black men. An article from the Revolutionary Communist Party's U.S. website provides an essay written by a 14-year-old girl who has never spent time with her father because he has been in prison her entire life. She describes the incarceration of young African American men as "a judge locking away your freedom and throwing away the key."
Many of Alexander's readers have expressed their opinions and ideas of her book on discussion pages. One reader, a reporter named Michelle, shared her experience in the comments section of an article by The Atlantic. She noticed the mass amounts of African American men that were being brought into a criminal courthouse because they were caught carrying small amounts of marijuana with them. She explains that she knew there was something wrong with this image and reading Alexander's book helped her to better understand her view on the subject of African American mass incarceration.
For the fall of 2015, all freshmen enrolled at Brown University read The New Jim Crow as part of the campus' First Readings Program initiated by the Office of the Dean of the College and voted on by various members of the faculty.
||This section may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. Please help to create a more balanced presentation. Discuss and resolve this issue before removing this message. (May 2016)|
Some scholars[who?] have criticized Alexander for misrepresenting the problem of mass-incarceration in the United States by augmenting and "repackaging" existing social justice research on mass-incarceration to suit white middle-class consumers. Such critics have argued that Alexander creates a strained analogy to the original Jim Crow laws, employs a counterrevolutionary conceptual framework, and marginalizes black and brown voices in favor of more mainstream and less radical perspectives. These critics[who?] agree that mass incarceration in the United States is a catastrophic situation, but disagree with Alexander with regard to its history, causes, and possible solutions.
Although African Americans have been exploited by the criminal justice system like no other group in America, inquiry into incarceration has often overlooked important Latino elements. One commentator has lamented that even for all its acclaim and accolade, Michele Alexander's The New Jim Crow (2011) failed to recognize the ever-burgeoning number of incarcerated immigrants: "I often wonder if to blacks, Latinos are invisible, as blacks are to whites, such that we do not even enter black consciousness (Vargas-Vargas 2012, 367)."
Strained analogy to Jim Crow
Yale University clinical law professor James Forman Jr., while acknowledging the many similarities and insights in using the Jim Crow analogy, has argued that Alexander overstates her case, and leaves out important ways in which the newer system of mass incarceration is different.
In one paper, Forman Jr. identifies Alexander as one of a number of authors who have overstated and misstated their case. He observes that her framework over-emphasizes the War on Drugs and ignores violent crimes, asserting that Alexander's analysis is demographically simplistic. Forman also points to the support, in many cases, for tough-on-crime policies among African-American public and elected officials themselves, in particular, in majority-black Washington D.C. He suggests that Alexander does not analyze the way imprisonment is now heavily stratified by class, even among African-Americans, and notes that Alexander does not discuss the mass incarceration of other races, including whites. In the section "Overlooking Race", Forman Jr. writes that the Jim Crow analogy "obscures the extent to which whites, too, are mass incarceration's targets," noting that "Alexander mentions them only in passing. she says that mass imprisonment's true targets are blacks, and that incarcerated whites are 'collateral damage.'"
Forman Jr. further suggests that the original Jim Crow should be kept separate as a unique historical event, and that The New Jim Crow's writer leaves out descriptions of atrocities, like lynching and torture, that the original Jim Crow entailed. In conclusion, Forman Jr. cautions that a movement against mass incarceration will need to address community safety and the treatment of prisoners, in addition to the sheer number of people imprisoned.
Recuperative and counterrevolutionary tendencies
The discourse of The New Jim Crow has been noted for its recuperative tendencies:
In one study, political sociologist Joseph D. Osel writes that The New Jim Crow is an "exceptional example of recuperation." According to his study the book promotes a false understanding of mass incarceration in the United States. He observes that The New Jim Crow "paradoxically excludes an analysis of mass incarceration's most central and defining factors," "omits all truly revolutionary stances from its discourse" (especially those of African Americans), "quietly denies the relevance of controversial American history," and "engages in a paradoxical counterrevolutionary protest that misleads readers about the context, causes and possible remedial methods of mass-incarceration in the United States." To support his disputed contention Osel cites several contradictions from the text, including that the book does not contain the word "capitalism." He writes: "The New Jim Crow is a book about a modern American "caste system" without even a single reference to the modern economic paradigm," noting that "the particular omissions and critical immunizations in The New Jim Crow serve to limit the discursive consciousness of the potential revolutionary subject" and that this limitation "runs contrary to the actual needs of the subject(s) under consideration."
In conclusion, Osel writes that social justice advocates should be deeply concerned about The New Jim Crow's wide acclaim and argues that a détournement of the text's "commercial misinformation and half-truths" could salvage the book as an instructive category of race relations, providing readers with "a powerful lens through which we could view the strange depths and modes of ideological domination and rhetorical schisms, which sustain societal problems even while challenging them." In his initial review of the book he also notes that The New Jim Crow lacks perspective on the larger systems of capitalism, colonialism, and racism that generate mass incarceration—partly, because Alexander's audience would be uncomfortably complicit with these systems.
In one essay, Greg Thomas, an Associate Professor of African Studies and English at Tufts University, also criticizes Alexander's understanding of mass incarceration, emphasizing problems with her terminology. He observes that she uses the terms "Jim Crow," "mass incarceration," and "slavery," but not "racism," "white supremacy," or "capitalism," noting that these choices serve to isolate the problem of mass imprisonment from larger systems of domination. Further, Thomas argues that Alexander's isolation of the War on Drugs bars an understanding of mass incarceration, writing that "The rhetoric of a 'War on Drugs' does not share space in Alexander's work with other language that is basic to other, prior political analyses of Black imprisonment or 'mass incarceration'," and that there is "no critical language of 'capitalism' or 'class' or 'exploitation' in The New Jim Crow." Thomas also observes that The New Jim Crow "hides from consumer view" more insightful, radical, and fearless ideas, writing that "Alexander cites everything but traditions of Black political and even academic radicalism," marginalizes longtime activists as "conspiracy theorists" who are misguided to accuse the American government of genocide or to challenge the prison system itself," and ignores the history of political hip hop, making only the broad generalization about "gangsta rap" that it enables black youth to identify with the stigma of being criminals.
Thomas also argues that Alexander's solutions to the problem of mass incarceration are counterrevolutionary, and that instead of demanding changes to the social structure of the United States, and "in lieu of any radical political action or activism," she asks for Christian love and for "civil rights," positions that will not create radical change.
Whitewashing and ahistoricism
One of the major criticisms Alexander's detractors have raised is one of "bizarre omission." Osel states that "while Alexander's book claims to be concerned with exposing and describing the history and mechanisms of mass incarceration or the American "caste system," which affects the poor and people of color systematically and disproportionately, her work systematically, strangely, and emphatically excludes these voices."
Osel contends that Alexander's work provides the history of criminal justice and imprisonment with "a vast rhetorical and historical facelift where the most relevant and affected voices on the topic at hand are safely expunged from the discussion, from relevance, from history." He observes: "According to Alexander's history, there is no Malcolm X or George Jackson, no Frantz Fanon, no Richard Wright, no Eldridge Cleaver, no Angela Davis, no Huey P. Newton, no Bobby Seale, no Black Panther Party, no Black Power Movement, no self-determination, no prison-struggles, no political prisoners ... Suspiciously there is almost no 1960s, no 1970s, no Black History, no Black Criticism, no Black Radicalism, no radicalism, no class struggle...the radical voices of America's black and brown inmates, the strong voices of anti-oppression, anti-imperialism, anti-exploitation, the voices of revolt, rebellion, revolution, Black and Brown power, the most salient historical texts, speeches, time-periods, and philosophies—all these things have been miraculously purged from Alexander's lens in a sort of operational whitewash, a black out, apparently unnoticed."
Greg Thomas also criticizes Alexander for her Eurocentrism and omission of black history, noting that her historical points of reference are the "founding fathers," "democracy," and "Obama," rather than radical black anti-prison leaders. He observes that Alexander meticulously ignores "all of the Black and non-Black radical movements of the 1960s and '70s ..." and repetitively affirms the reality of "colorblindness", noting that Alexander describes the marginalization of blacks as almost accidental. According to Thomas, "Alexander writes as if she wonders: 'What, then, does explain the extraordinary racial disparities in our criminal justice system? Old-fashioned racism seems out of the question' (Alexander 2012, 103)."
Further, Thomas observes that the first chapter of The New Jim Crow, "The Rebirth of Caste," is a rewriting of history, calling it "a self-contained or isolationist U.S. history disconnected from the history of the world." He notes that The New Jim Crow "moves first from 'The Birth of Slavery' to 'The Death of Slavery,' despite the fact that 'slavery' does not "die" " pointing out that "Alexander first lauds the 'achievement' of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for 'abolishing slavery (29),' and only belatedly concedes that it reframed or rearticulated slavery instead of abolishing it. For 'slavery remained appropriate as punishment for a crime' (31)."
Thomas concludes that "there is literally next to nothing to be learned from The New Jim Crow," writing that "The New Jim Crow is not for 'everyone' because from cover to cover 'everyone' except advocates of white and middle-class liberalism – in the imperial context of U.S. settler nationalism – are placed totally and completely beyond the pale."
- Winner, NAACP Image Awards (Outstanding Non-fiction, 2011)
- Winner of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's Prevention for a Safer Society (PASS) Award
- Winner of the Constitution Project's 2010 Constitutional Commentary Award
- 2010 IPPY Award: Silver Medal in Current Events II (Social Issues/Public Affairs/Ecological/Humanitarian) category
- Winner of the 2010 Association of Humanist Sociology Book Award
- Finalist, Silver Gavel Award
- Finalist, Phi Beta Kappa Emerson Award
- Finalist, Letitia Woods Brown Book Award
Court cases discussed
- Department of Housing and Urban Development v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125 (2002)
- Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (How. 19) 393 (1857)
- Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003)
- McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279, 327 (1989)
- McLaurin v. Oklahoma, 339 U.S. 637 (1950)
- Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978)
- Miller El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322 (2003)
- Neal v. Delaware, 103 U.S. 370 (1880)
- Ohio v. Robinette, 519 U.S. 33 (1996)
- Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979)
- Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973)
- Skinner v. Railway Labor Executive Association, 489 U.S. 602, 641 (1980)
- Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944)
- State v. Rutherford, 93 Ohio App. 3d 586, 593-95, 639 N.E. 2d 498, 503– 4, n. 3 (Ohio Ct. App. 1994)
- State v. Soto, 324 N.J.Super. 66, 69-77, 83-85, 734 A.2d 350, 352-56, 360 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. 1996)
- Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 308 (1880)
- Smith v. Mississippi, 162 U.S. 592 (1896)
- Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202 (1965)
- Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)
- United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975)
- United States v. Carolene Products Co., 301 U.S. 144, n. 4 (1938)
- United States v. Clary, 846 F.Supp. 768, 796-797 (E.D.Mo. 1994)
- United States v. Flowers, 912 F. 2d 707, 708 (4th Cir. 1990)
- United States v. Lewis, 921 F. 2d 1294, 1296 (1990)
- United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976)
- United States v. One Parcel of Real Estate Located at 9818 S.W. 94 Terrace, 788 F. Supp. 561, 565 (S.D. Fla. 1992)
- United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696 (1983)
- United States v. Reese, 92 U.S. 214 (1876)
- Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 373-74 (1886)
a.^ The persistently lingering result of the lack of land reform, of the fact that the former slaves were not granted any of the property on which they had long labored (unlike many European serfs, emancipated and economically empowered to various degrees by that time, their American counterparts ended up with nothing), is the present extremely inequitable distribution of wealth in the United States along racial lines. 150 years after the Civil War, the median wealth of a black family is a small fraction of the median wealth of a white family.
b.^ According to Ruth W. Grant of Duke University, the author of the book Strings Attached: Untangling the Ethics of Incentives (Princeton University Press 2011, ISBN 978-0-691-15160-1), the expediency-based plea bargain process, in which 90 to 95% of felony prosecutions never go to trial, but are settled by the defendant pleading guilty, undermines the purpose and challenges the legitimacy of the justice system. Justice won't take place, because "either the defendant is guilty, but gets off easy by copping a plea, or the defendant is innocent but pleads guilty to avoid the risk of greater punishment". The question of guilt is decided without adjudicating the evidence-the fundamental process of determining the truth and assigning proportionate punishment does not take place.
c.^ Michelle Alexander suggested in a March 2012 New York Times article a possible strategy (she attributed the idea to Susan Burton) for coping with the unjust criminal justice system. If large numbers of the accused could be persuaded to opt out of plea bargaining and demand a full trial by jury, to which they are constitutionally entitled, the criminal justice system in its present form would be unable to continue because of lack of resources (it would "crash"). This last resort strategy is controversial, as some would end up with extremely harsh sentences, but, it is argued, progress often cannot be made without sacrifice.
- Alexander (2010)
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- Alexander (2010), pp. 5-6
- Mauer (2006), p. 33
- PEW Center on the States, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008 (Washington, DC: PEW Center, Feb. 2008), p. 5
- Donald Braman, Doing Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Family Life in Urban America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), p. 3
- Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, NSDUH series H-34, DHHS pub. no. SMA 08-4343
- Human Rights Watch, Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, HRW Reports vol. 12, no. 2 (New York, 2000)
- Paul Street, The Vicious Circle: Race, Prison, Jobs, and Community in Chicago, Illinois, and the Nation (Chicago Urban League, Department of Research and Planning, 2002)
- Alexander (2010), pp. 6-7
- Michael Tonry, Thinking About Crime: Sense and Sensibility in American Penal Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 14, 20
- Mauer (2006), pp. 17-18
- Alexander (2010), pp. 7-9
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- Reviewer (2009-11-02). "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Praise for The New Jim Crow". newjimcrow.com. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- Moore, Dennis. "Book Review: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is an Enlightening Read". East County Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Prisoner's Daughter Writes on Devastating Effects of Mass Incarceration". Revolution. RCP Publications. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Books for the Horde: The New Jim Crow, Chapter One". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
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- SpearIt (2015-04-02). "How Mass Incarceration Underdevelops Latino Communities". Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
- Forman, Jr., James (26 February 2012). "Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow" (PDF). Racial Critiques 87: 101–146. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- Joseph D. Osel (2012-12-15). "Toward Détournement of The New Jim Crow, or, The Strange Career of The New Jim Crow". INT'L J. RADICAL CRITIQUE 1:2. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
- Joseph D. Osel (2012-04-07). "Black Out: Michelle Alexander's Operational Whitewash" (PDF). Int'l J. Radical Critique 1:1. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- Greg Thomas (2012-04-26). "Why Some Like The New Jim Crow So Much". Vox Union. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- Richard Overy (2010), The Times Complete History of the World, Eights Edition, p. 200-201. London: Times Books. ISBN 978-0-00-788089-8.
- "Downturn widens racial wealth gap". BBC News. 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- Nancy F. Koehn (2012-02-04). "When Life Is a Bunch of Carrots". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- Michelle Alexander (2012-03-11). "Go to trial: Crash the Justice System". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
- Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7.
- Mauer, Marc (2006). Race to Incarcerate. New York: The New Press. ISBN 9781595580221.
- Reinarman, Craig; Levine, Harry G. (1995). "The Crack Attack: America's Latest Drug Scare, 1986–1992". In Joel Best. Images and Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems. New York: Aldine De Gruyter. ISBN 9780202366739.
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- The New Jim Crow official site
- In Prison Reform, Money Trumps Civil Rights, Michelle Alexander (The New York Times, May 14, 2011)
- Justices, 5-4, Tell California to Cut Prisoner Population, Adam Liptak (The New York Times, May 23, 2011)
- Trend to Lighten Harsh Sentences Catches On in Conservative States, Charlie Savage (The New York Times, August 13, 2011)
- Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs, Roger N. Lancaster (The New York Times, August 20, 2011)
- Tortured by Solitude, Sarah Shourd (The New York Times, November 5, 2011)
- Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?, Nicholas K. Peart (The New York Times, December 17, 2011)
- Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow, Critical Review (Radical Critiques, February 27, 2012)
- Black Out: Michelle Alexander's Operational Whitewash, Critical Review (International Journal of Radical Critique, April 7, 2012)
- Why Some Like The New Jim Crow So Much, Critical Review (Vox Union, April 26, 2012)
- Toward Détournement of The New Jim Crow, or, The Strange Career of The New Jim Crow, Critical Analysis (International Journal of Radical Critique, December 15, 2012)