Praise for The New Jim Crow

Inmate in shower- 'B-East' cellblock-Stateville- 1992“Now and then a book comes along that might in time 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. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is such a work. . . Alexander considers the evidence and concludes that our prison system is a unique form of social control, much like slavery and Jim Crow, the systems it has replaced. . . [She] is not the first to offer this bitter analysis, but The New Jim Crow is striking in the intelligence of her ideas, her powers of summary, and the force of her writing. Her tone is disarming throughout; she speaks as a concerned citizen, not as an expert, though she is one. She can make the abstract concrete, as J. Saunders Redding once said in praise of W.E.B. Du Bois, and Alexander deserves to be compared to Du Bois in her ability to distill and lay out as mighty human drama a complex argument and history.”—The New York Review of Books, March 2011

“[An] instant classic. . .The New Jim Crow is a grand wake-up call in the midst of a long slumber of indifference to the poor and vulnerable.” —Cornel West

The New Jim Crow offers a devastating account of a legal system doing its job perfectly well. We have simply replaced one caste system (Jim Crow) for another one (imprisonment, parole, detention) that keeps the majority of minorities in a permanent state of disenfranchisement. Alexander looks in detail at what economists usually miss, namely the entire legal structure of the courts, parole, probation and laws that effectively turn a perpetrator of a crime into a moral outlaw who is unworthy of rehabilitation. . . Alexander 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.”  —Forbes

“[An] extraordinary book.”  —Marian Wright Edelman

“Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that ‘[w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.’ Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as ‘a system of social control’ (‘More African Americans are under correctional control today. . . than were enslaved in 1850′). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the ‘war on drugs.’ She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates ‘who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.’ Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: ‘most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration’—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.”  —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A profoundly necessary book.”  —Miami Herald

“For every century there is a crisis in our democracy, the response to which defines how future generations view those who were alive at the time.   In the eighteenth century it was the transatlantic slave trade, in the nineteenth century it was slavery, in the twentieth century it was Jim Crow. Today it is mass incarceration. Alexander’s book offers a timely and original framework for understanding mass incarceration, its roots to Jim Crow, our modern caste system, and what must be done to eliminate it. This book is a call to action.” —Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO, NAACP

“Alexander is absolutely right to fight for what she describes as a ‘much needed conversation’ about the wide-ranging social costs and divisive racial impact of our criminal justice policies.” —Newsweek

“Michelle Alexander’s brave and bold new book paints a haunting picture in which dreary felon garb, post-prison joblessness, and loss of voting rights now do the stigmatizing work once done by colored-only water fountains and legally segregated schools. With dazzling candor, Alexander argues that we all pay the cost of the new Jim Crow.”  —Lani Guinier, professor of law, Harvard Law School

“Invaluable. . .The New Jim Crow is a timely and stunning guide to the labyrinth of propaganda, discrimination, and racist policies masquerading under other names that comprises what we call justice in America.” —Daily Kos

“A powerful analysis of why and how mass incarceration is happening in America, The New Jim Crow should be required reading for anyone working for real change in the criminal justice system.” —Ronald E. Hampton, executive director, National Black Police Association

“With imprisonment now the principal instrument of our social policy directed toward poorly educated black men, Michelle Alexander argues persuasively that the huge racial disparity of punishment in America is not the mere result of neutral state action. She sees the rise of mass incarceration as opening up a new front in the historic struggle for racial justice. And she’s right. If you care about justice in America, you need to read this book!” —Glenn C. Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Brown University

“After reading The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander’s stunning work of scholarship, one gains the terrible realization that, for people of color, the American criminal justice system resembles the Soviet Union’s gulag—the latter punished ideas, the former punishes a condition.” —David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor of history at New York University

The New Jim Crow is essential reading for anyone who cares about justice, humanity, and the future of our democracy.” —California Lawyer

“We need to pay attention to Michelle Alexander’s contention that mass imprisonment in the U.S. constitutes a racial caste system. . . Her analysis reflects the passion of an advocate and the intellect of a scholar.”—Marc Mauer, executive director, The Sentencing Project, and author of Race to Incarcerate