Mass Incarceration In The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander

1012 Words5 Pages

In an interview with Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, she claims that mass incarceration is a new version of the Jim Crow laws that were initially enacted in the nineteenth and twentieth century. These laws were set into place in order to enforce segregation between black and white citizens. Jim Crow was supposed to have ended in the 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, however Alexander believes that current society has been using “the war on drugs” as a tactic to discriminate against black people thus continuing the ideas of the racial segregation. Though congress may have passed the Civils Right Act, that has not stopped society from racial profiling each other and discriminating as they see fit. Black citizens continue to face …show more content…

The Jim Crow laws were meant to strip African American of their rights, to oppress them, to restrict them from ever gaining their rights; Incarceration is essentially doing the same. According to Alexander, many prisons have disenfranchised the felons, and Kentucky has made it legal to disenfranchise them for the rest of their lives. The discrimination, however, does not end there. Once branded a criminal many opportunities that the average american citizens are so privileged to receive are revoked no matter the type of felony. When applying for a job, one must check off the little box that questions if the applicator has ever been convicted of a felony. From there, the employer is able to refuse to hire them if they have checked yes. If the “felon” needs a place to stay, they can also be discriminated against by public housing. Additionally, in some states, being branded a criminal results in the ineligibility of receiving food stamps. Just as Nixon intended, the so-called “war on drugs” has also disrupted black communities. In cities of extreme incarceration, communities find it hard to reconstruct their economy as people are more than likely working low-paying jobs due to being refused again and again by higher paying jobs for being a criminal. Just as the Jim Crow laws segregated blacks from white, extensive incarceration segregates the socioeconomic classes and it is no …show more content…

However, it is extremely familiar to those who have personally experienced racial prejudice and discrimination. As Alexander emphasized, one does not truly realize the extent of mass incarceration in the US unless they or someone they know has been directly impacted. As a white person, I do not presume to truly understand a black person’s experiences within society. What I do know is what is portrayed by the media. Rarely do I hear about a black person being praised for any sort of achievement. Oftentimes, the media publicizes when a black person is shot and killed by an officer and even then many cases tend to go unnoticed. The officers are hardly ever reprimanded for having shot an innocent child who was mistaken for holding a gun when it was really a toy truck. It is also known that far too often, rich white men are able to avoid being sent to jail, keeping their record clean. Whereas poor people of color are usually sentenced to harsher punishments for committing the same crime. It is evident that there is a much larger picture to the incarceration of black people and other minorities. Mass incarceration has become a legal institutionalized system that methodically oppresseses both the criminal and their community. It has become so normalized within those communities and unspoken by the privileged that few dare to speak of it or challenge it. Despite the fact that

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