Washington, D.C. is the nation’s only majority-black jurisdiction, 66% of the police department made up African Americans, and the D.C. Council is primarily African American (Forman, 2012). The incarceration rates for African Americans in Washington, D.C. mirror those of other cities where African Americans have less control over sentencing policy (Forman, 2012). Forman (2012) pointed out if black citizens supported policies that supported mass incarceration how could it be regarded as the New Jim Crow. “The Old Jim Crow, after all, was a series of legal restrictions, backed by state and private violence, imposed on black people by the white majority” (Forman, 2012, pg. 115).
American prison systems encompass all three spheres of criminal justice: law enforcement, judiciary, corrections. Within this system, a massive problem exists. America is known as the “mass incarceration nation” (Hamilton, 2014, p. 1271). Comparatively, the United States encompasses the majority of global prisoners, yet the population is nowhere near that proportion. Just how “free and equal” is this system? Since Gideon v. Wainwright, the racial divide in the criminal justice system has grown, which is contradictory to its intentions. The American criminal justice system has failed to provide the justice and protections it promises. There are many injustices caused by the mass incarceration of American citizens, especially those of minority descent. More harm is done by incarceration to the individual, their community, and the nation, than if other forms of justice were used. The criminal justice system is divided, with racial and income disparities defining the nation in way never intended.
Alexander argues that racism has kept African Americans in prison, stripping them of their freedom, their right to vote, and their access to the mainstream economy. The author contends that this system of institutionalized racism, spurred on by the “War on Drugs” has resulted in a wave of mass incarceration of black and brown Americans. Her book documents that the United States accounts for 25% of the world's prison population. She points to the fact that, after slavery was abolished, black men were arrested on trumped up charges to force them into a new kind of slavery: the prison industrial system. She uses the term “mass incarceration” to describe the overwhelming number of black and brown people in “custody” in both the formal jail/prison system as well as outside the facilities on probation and
The criminal justice system is composed of three parts – Police, Courts and Corrections – and all three work together to protect an individual’s rights and the rights of society to live without fear of being a victim of crime. According to merriam-webster.com, crime is defined as “an act that is forbidden or omission of a duty that is commanded by public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law.” When all the three parts work together, it makes the criminal justice system function like a well tuned machine.
The election of Barack Obama as the 56th president of the United States raised many hopes that the “Black struggles” was finally over. For conservatives, Obama victory reassured their beliefs that there was no longer such thing as racism and that every American had equal rights and opportunity to pursue the American dream. While many people have come to believe that all races have equal rights in America, Tim Wise argues in his documentary “White Like Me” that not only does racism and unconscious racial bias still exist, but that also White Americans are unable to simply relate to the variety of forms racism and inequality Blacks experience. This is mainly because of the privileges they get as the “default.” While Wise explores the variety forms of racism and inequality today such as unconscious racism, Black poverty, unemployment, inadequate education system, and prison system, the articles by the New York Times Editorial Board, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Adam Liptak further explore some the disparities in the criminal justice system. Ana Swanson points out in her article, “The Stubborn Persistence of Black-White Inequality, 50 Years after Selma” that while the “U.S. has made big strides towards equal rights,” significant gaps still remains between the two races. With the Supreme Court striking down a “portion of the Voting Rights Act that stopped discriminatory voting laws from going into effect in areas of the country with histories of disenfranchisement,” civil
The New Jim Crow is a book written by Michelle Alexander that discusses the rebirth of a caste-like system and race-related issues in the United States specific to African-American males and mass incarceration. Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow, is a scholarly article that examines and critiques mass incarceration as well as the analogy of the Criminal Justice system being the “new Jim Crow.”
In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander develops a compelling analogy on how mass incarceration is similar to the Jim Crow era, and is a “race-making institution.” She begins her work with the question, “Where have all the black men gone?” (Alexander, 178) She demonstrates how the media and Obama have failed to give an honest answer to this question, that the large majority of them or in prison. She argues that in order to address this problem, we must be honest about the fact that this is happening, and the discrimination with the African American communities that is putting them there.
Racism in the United States has not remained the same over time since its creation. Racism has shifted, changed, and shaped into unrecognizable ways that fit into the fabric of the American society to render it nearly invisible to the majority of Americans. Michelle Alexander, in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness shatters this dominantly held belief. The New Jim Crow makes a reader profoundly question whether the high rates of incarceration in the United States is an attempt to maintain blacks as an underclass. Michelle Alexander makes the assertion that “[w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it” using the criminal justice system and colorblind rhetoric. (Alexander 2). The result is a population of Black and Latino men who face barriers and deprivation of rights as did Blacks during the Jim Crow era. Therefore, mass incarceration has become the new Jim Crow.
There is a negative stigma against the Black Community as a whole embedded into the American penal system. Stories about police officers shooting young, unarmed black men flood television screens and social media timelines while young black boys are left to wonder if they are next, left to wonder if they will be the next news headline or trending hashtag. In A Question of Freedom, a young Dwayne Betts faces the injustices of prison as a young, black male who was treated as an adult in the eyes of the law. He is forced to grow up in jail and was stripped of his childhood the minute he committed a crime. Black men are not always given a fair chance but Betts uses his time both behind bars and within the years to follow them in order to educate himself as well as others on the realities of life in prison as a growing boy.
In today’s society, discrimination is an issue that is considered to be a thing of the past. In a country with such diversity it is hard to believe that people living in the “land of the free” face issues of racism. This paper will focus specifically on the social problem of mass incarceration of minority groups and how the criminal justice system targets these groups. Although this social problem can be linked to specifically African Americans, the impacts of mass incarceration can be felt by almost everyone. I have chosen three articles that focus on how the criminal justice system is masking mass imprisonment a major problem in minority communities.
Through the use of literature to inspire social change, Michelle Alexander is able to bring attention to an extremely important social issue that is very prevalent throughout our country. The issue that Alexander is writing about is the mass incarceration of black males in the United States. She describes this increase of mass incarceration in depth, and relates this modern form of social control back to an old practice of the Jim Crow laws and separate but equal segregation.
Glen Loury argues in his essay called “A Nation of Jailer” that the United States is a nation that follows a society that has been affected by racial bias. Loury claims that the people who are targeted by law are racial discriminated. Loury mainly talks about the “poorly educated black and Hispanic men who reside in large numbers in our great urban centers.” (1) Loury has made a clear and strong point. Loury shows his points in three main ways. Loury emphasizes his points by using ethos, logos, and pathos. Loury uses many well-known characters in his writing, and Loury uses strong phrases that impact the reader emotionally and questions to make sure the reader has some sort of connection to Loury’s evidence. Furthermore, Loury gives a lot
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States. Michelle Alexander (2010) argues that despite the old Jim Crow is death, does not necessarily means the end of racial caste (p.21). In her book “The New Jim Crow”, Alexander describes a set of practices and social discourses that serve to maintain African American people controlled by institutions. In this book her analyses is centered in examining the mass incarceration phenomenon in recent years. Comparing Jim Crow with mass incarceration she points out that mass incarceration is
After rejecting conservatives’ idea that criminal behaviors are caused by black culture, Alexander said that poverty and inequality are the “root causes” of crimes. She then includes a quote from Lyndon Johnson, “there is something mighty wrong when a candidate for the highest office bemoans violence in the streets but votes against the war on poverty, votes against the civil rights act and votes against major educational bills that come before him as a legislator” (45). Alexander uses this quote to criticize politicians who purport that they want to reinstall “law and order” but vote against bills that fight the antecedents of crimes. This may spark a series of questions in the reader, such as “if their motive is really to reinstall “law and order,” why aren’t trying to eliminate the origin of crimes? Why are they ignoring them instead? Alexander is insinuating that these politicians want minorities in prison, where they can control them, supporting her argument that the government always tries to control minorities. This also supports her argument that the “war on drug” and “law and order” movements represent the new form control system in the United States.
“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. In Washington, D.C., our nation’s capitol, it is estimated that three out of four young black men (and nearly all those in the poorest neighborhoods) can expect to serve time in prison” (Alexander, 2012). The numbers tell the story better than words can: black people are more likely to go to prison than any other race in the United States, shown by the fact that more than 60% of the prison population is composed of people of color (The Sentencing Project, 2016). These statistics can be traced back to several different cause, including the Era of Jim Crow and the War on Drugs, both of which led to higher policing in minority areas.