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Luminous Animal

(27,310 posts)
Sat Jan 14, 2012, 12:37 PM Jan 2012

America Worse Than Apartheid on Black Incarceration [View all]

Michelle Alexander, who wrote the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” was interviewed on Democracy Now on Friday, January 13, 2012. According to the interview, there are more African Americans under correctional control today than there were enslaved in 1850. More African American men are disenfranchised today than in 1870 as a result of felony disenfranchisement laws. And, as a percentage of the total population, there are currently more blacks imprisoned in the U.S. than in South Africa at the height of apartheid.

Alexander points out that the high incarceration rate for African Americans is due largely to the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement (e.g., Three Strikes laws, Zero Tolerance laws, minimum sentencing rules), which have disproportionately affected poor people of color, and which were designed as a backlash against the Civil Rights movement, as they reduce black participation in the political system in much the same way that poll taxes and literacy tests did in the past.

The majority of U.S. prisoners are serving time for nonviolent and drug-related crimes which are committed by middle class and white Americans at a similar rate to poor African Americans, but which are largely ignored in middle class white neighborhoods. Thus, the problem is not entirely due to racism, but is also due to continued class distinctions and wealth inequality.


Also, here is the Democracy Now interview with Michelle Alexander.

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