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The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

07 Jun

I first saw this book in the library over a year ago. The title caught my eye. The synopsis, though, made me scoff and put it back on the shelf. Even a former defense attorney and all around cynic like myself found it too much. So what is the thesis? That today’s criminal justice system serves the same role as Jim Crow.

Sure, I thought, the vast majority of people in prison are black. But whose fault is that? Does she really expect me to believe there is some kind of system wide conspiracy to imprison blacks? Isn’t the simpler answer that they commit more crimes?

That certainly is the simpler answer. Wrong, too. In fact, black people commit crimes at about the same rate as other races. Sometimes less, as with marijuana. They are, however. Much, much, much more likely to be arrested for those crimes. That difference, both the reasons for it and the results of it, is the crux of the book.

Powerful, passionate, infuriating, well reasoned: All adjectives that come close to describing The New Jim Crow. Anyone who has the slightest concerns for liberty, equality and the lives of anyone other than themselves needs to read this book.

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Nonfiction

 

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