The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration Essay

1179 Words Dec 13th, 2016 5 Pages
In Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander calls mass incarceration the “New Jim Crow.” In this way, Alexander connects the past of the Jim Crow era to the present way in which criminals are treated today. The Jim Crow era refers to the racial caste system of laws and policies once set in place during the end of Reconstruction through the late 1950s by which white southerners reasserted their dominance over African Americans by denying them their basic civil rights in order to maintain racial segregation in the South. Mass incarceration, on the other hand, refers to a white power structure of racialized social control that, like Jim Crow, operates to humiliate, degrade, and control black people into an inferior position through law and order. After analyzing the racial aspects of mass incarceration, Alexander evaluates the world which ex-offenders enter once released from prison. She notes that there are innumerable obstacles an ex-offender must surmount including: housing discrimination, limited by one’s felony record; finding a job, which can prove impossible of status as a felon; health and welfare benefits, due to limitations on public assistance; voting; and, dealing with the psychological burden of shame and stigma associated with criminality. All of these demonstrate why Alexander chose Jim Crow as a framework in comparing what is happening today regarding mass incarceration. While Alexander’s analogy between…

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