The New Jim Crow Essay

1036 Words Apr 11th, 2012 5 Pages
In today’s modern world, many people would be surprised to find out that there is still a racial caste system in America. After witnessing the election of a black president, people have started believing that America has entered a post-racial society. This is both a patently false and dangerous mindset. The segregation and stigma of race is still very much alive in our society. Instead of a formalized institution such as slavery or Jim Crow, America has found a new way to continue the marginalization of blacks by using the criminal justice system. In Michelle Alexander’s book “ The New Jim Crow”, she shows how America’s “ War on Drugs “ has become a tool of racial segregation and how the discretionary enforcement of drug laws has …show more content…
Through the use of federal grants, local law enforcement began competing for funds, equipment, and training to wage the drug war as we now know it. In 2011, the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that 23.44 billion dollars will be spent on drug law enforcement. Once a suspect is apprehended, the prosecutor decides whether the state will pursue charges and what the nature of those charges will be. The approval of harsh mandatory sentencing laws allows prosecutors to force plea bargains from many defendants through intimidation. By using these tactics, very few defendants go to trial because of their reasonable fear of receiving exorbitantly long sentences for minor crimes. Another factor that contributes to the mass incarceration of blacks is the denial of comprehensive legal representation. The public defenders office is woefully underfunded and many of the people apprehended are routinely denied even this meager resource. The prosecution clearly has the upper hand in these scenarios and uses it to dictate the outcome of the legal process. After an individual has been convicted of a drug crime, their lives are forever changed for the worse. They lose many basic freedoms such as the right to vote or serve on a jury. This is where the real purpose of the “ War on Drugs “ lies. During the Jim Crow era, blacks were denied full citizenship through a formalized social structure which allowed and condoned their disparate

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