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A New Era Of Jim Crow?

Beyond Trayvon Martin, Michelle Alexander argues that mass black incarceration has created a new era of Jim Crow.

In this Oct. 27, 2011 photo, a deputy passes a line of inmates, as seen during a tour of the Men's Central Jail, run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in downtown Los Angeles. (AP)

In this Oct. 27, 2011 photo, a deputy passes a line of inmates, as seen during a tour of the Men's Central Jail, run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in downtown Los Angeles. (AP)

The case of young Trayvon Martin and his death in Florida have tuned the country into issues of race and justice like no other event in years.  Issues of power and presumption, of life and death.  Legal scholar Michelle Alexander takes a breathtaking leap beyond the Martin case, to American justice writ large.

American prisons, she says, are jammed with black men cut off from the rights of full citizenship.  Their mass incarceration, she says, is now the heart of a racial caste system in America.  Right now, her book is flying off the shelves.

This hour, On Point:  we’ll talk with Michelle Alexander about what she calls “the new Jim Crow.”

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Michelle Alexander, civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, she’s the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Garry McCarthy, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, did not expect to hear anything too startling when he appeared at a conference on drug policy organized last year by an African-American minister in Newark, where he was the police director.”

South Florida Times “Ohio State University Professor Michelle Alexander came to South Florida to discuss her groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, but in her talk to a standing-room-only audience at Books & Books in Coral Gables, she touched on the recent shooting death of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin.”

Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository “In the last decade, a number of scholars have called the American criminal justice system a new form of Jim Crow. These writers have effectively drawn attention to the injustices created by a facially race-neutral system that severely ostracizes offenders and stigmatizes young, poor black men as criminals.”

Excerpt: The New Jim Crow

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