The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander


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Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century by Entertainment Weekly‚ Slate‚ Chronicle of Higher Eduction‚ Literary Hub, Book Riot‚ and Zora

A tenth-anniversary edition of the iconic bestseller—“one of the most influential books of the past 20 years,” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education —with a new preface by the author

“It is in no small part thanks to Alexander’s account that civil rights organizations such as Black Lives Matter have focused so much of their energy on the criminal justice system.”
—Adam Shatz, London Review of Books

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”

Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620975459
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Edition description: Anniversar
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 103,438
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. She is a former Ford Foundation Senior Fellow and Soros Justice Fellow, has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and has run the ACLU of Northern California’s Racial Justice Project. Alexander is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and an opinion columnist for the New York Times. The author of The New Jim Crow and The New Jim Crow: Young Readers’ Edition (both from The New Press), she lives in Columbus, Ohio.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Explosive debut…alarming, provocative and convincing.”
Kirkus Reviews

“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 at Harvard Law School and author of Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice and The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy

“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 18th century it was the transatlantic slave trade, in the 19th century it was slavery, in the 20th 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

“With imprisonment now the principal instrument of our social policy directed toward poorly educated black men, Michelle Alexander argues convincingly 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, economist at Brown University and author of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality and Race, Incarceration and American Values

“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 historian at NYU and author of W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963

"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, author of Race to Incarcerate

“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

Customer Reviews

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
quarisphere More than 1 year ago
this book is absolutely brilliant. Alexander writes very well, so it's an easy read despite its heavy content. This book provides a compelling case for her assertion that the criminal justice system's overtly discriminatory practices have successfully contributed to undercaste in today's society. It starts a bit slow as I was wondering how she was going to prove her claims, but once you get a little farther in you're hooked! The evidence is APPALLING! It felt like I was reading about the USSR's justice system rather than America's! If white Americans were treated in this insane way, these policies would've been reversed years ago. It is an eye-opening read, especially for someone who is white and not intimately knowledgeable about the US criminal justice system. Highly recommended!!!
EDashwood More than 1 year ago
While any thoughtful person will admit that racism exists in the USA, most still will be shocked by the extent that it's supported, spread and encouraged by government agencies at all levels. This is primarily through the official justice system and enhanced by federal funding and the media, over the past few decades manipulated and fused to a non-issue made into a bugaboo for political ends, the War on Drugs. The author has thoroughly researched and makes a titanium-strength case about this indefensible condition, supported at nearly every turn by the legal system and ignored by our elected and appointed officials. This book should serve as a call to arms for all people who despise the waste of human skills and potential or who have a repugnance against injustice.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2010) *Thought provoking. *Informative. *Well-developed. *Enlightening & educational. *Well researched with plenty of references. *Gives the reader a history of the "criminal justice system" as a way to control certain ethnic and cultural groups. *The 4th amendment right is explained. *Offers insight to a system that affects and effects each and every person living in America. *Well worth reading to make you knowledgeable about the topic discussed.
Darin Paul More than 1 year ago
Alexander does a masterful job at taking the reader through the history of caste in the US. She then offers a plausible solution, although certanly not an easy one, to the problem. This book should be read by anyone currently affected by drugs and incarceration and by politicans seeking a solution to the problem of exploding deficits and the expense of mass incarceration.
Katie_Randolph More than 1 year ago
I wish this book were required reading in every high school, college, and university across the country. Only by educating the American public about the way its criminal justice system has been weaponized against people of color will we be able to bring about change. Mass incarceration is just the latest method of perpetuating our country's long and sordid history of racial segregation, exclusion, subjugation, and brutality. Thank you to Michelle Alexander for her cogent analysis of this insidious perversion of "justice" that for far too long has been hidden in plain sight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books that I've read in over a decade. This book tells it like it is and the "is" ain't pretty. Michelle does a wonderful job explaining in layman's terms how racial control systems are still very much a part of our society today.
jamirie More than 1 year ago
I can't believe someone was brave enough to write this. The only problem is with the title. The word Genoicide should be in there somewhere. Call it what it REALLY is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. She did the hard work to understand the reasons why so many people of color are incarcerated.
mc76NYC More than 1 year ago
This book by Michelle Alexander is an informative and good read about an often neglected subject in the larger realms of social discourse, the large incarceration rates of minority men, most notably those of African heritage. It is particularly helpful for those who wish to learn more about the intersection of the criminal justice system and social justice. For example, how does such an issue affect family life in the Black community? How does the stigma of having a criminal record affect the person when he (or she) is released from prison? This book helps to address these kinds of concerns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alexander makes a great argument here about the criminal justice system perpetuating a new caste system with criminals at the bottom. She does make repeat some points over and again, could have been shorter. Overall recommend it.
scoopywells More than 1 year ago
I was moved to tears and called to act. Thanks Michelle for uncovering what's been a devastating truth. Justice isn't just!
JD4short More than 1 year ago
...Alexander's analysis promises to bring into focus the phenomena taking place around us and, finally, separate America's consciousness from the well-intentioned but bleary narratives perpetuated in our news media. Alexander's well researched tour of segregation, the 'war' on drugs, and the frightening course of Supreme Court precedent is guaranteed to keep readers curious, so long as they are willing to dive into the murky waters of race in democracy and wrestle with their previous assumptions. Certainly, the book doesn't lay blame on a concerted conspiracy theory to suppress black people but rather reveals that intertwining agendas of greed, power, fear, and (most of all) convenience combined to create a system that truly does disadvantage the nation's black inhabitants, as a group, in order to feed the system that benefits the prison industry, militarizing police departments, fear-monger politicians, and probably drug dealers themselves, so long as they are either white or can pay enough. If that sounds ridiculous, then read the book and offer counter-arguments. Regardless of the reader's politics, this piece is well-written and tightly researched. Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alexander singlehandedly changed my opinion about race in America. I have been misled and confused about the common fallacies perpetuated by the media, but no more
ryeLee More than 1 year ago
Most important book I've ever read! When it comes to race and opportunity in America, the 3 strikes and you're out rule should apply, but not to the individual. It should apply to the Federal Government and its devastating policies. Slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration due to the war on drugs are the proof that evil exists in America. I challenge all Americans to read this book and make their own judgment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michelle Alexander delivers a scathing critique and fascinating untold history of mass incarceration. This book makes a strong case for massive reformation to the US criminal justice system and an end to (or, at a minimum, a redirection of) the war on drugs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We see what we want to see. This books shows us a different view. I'm not sure I buy into all of her concepts but it is definitely food for thought. This would be a great book for a book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enlightening book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bursting with intelligence and insight, and utterly compelling, this book should be required for every US citizen so they can truly understand the history of race relations in this country and what is going on with race right now. When you read it, you have the sense of a blindfold being pulled off your eyes. It is painful and heartbreaking to read because it all makes so much sense. I would highly recommend reading it in conjunction with The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabelle Wilkerson's Pulitzer Prize winning account of The Old Jim Crow. The terrible, shocking news of both books is that nothing has really changed much since the days of slavery in the way our systems of government control the lives of most African Americans
Anonymous 9 months ago
This is a MUST read. That's all I'll say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Taught me sooooo much. And changed how I see the US and our current society. Made me look critically at myself as well and made me realize some bias and ignorance I was holding. This should be essential reading.
nancyjune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has opened my eyes to problems I was vaguely aware of (the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison, harsher sentences for "black" drugs; i.e., crack, vs. drugs commonly used by whites), but were caused by a system I did not understand. Alexander explains clearly how the new racial caste system developed, how it works, and why it works. I wish everyone would read this book.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
I knew this would be a hard read and I was right. I learned so much in this book. I am appalled that this discrimination is going on. I did not know how completely a felony conviction takes over a person's life and how much it ruins that life. This book opened my eyes to the abuses that go on today. I do not know how we can go about correcting the wrongs of mass incarceration but changes do need to happen. This is one book everyone should and must read.
Rissababy More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this book I didn't know what to expect. I have seen the 13th documentary on Netflix, so I imagined it would be pretty similar. For the most part, it was, but there were differences. This book took me through several emotions, such as anger and sadness. My career has a lot to do with the emotions I encountered while reading. I recently started working as a therapist at an outpatient mental health agency. I work with juveniles involved in the court system. While reading, I only thought about my current and potential clients and their experience with the justice system. Many are misunderstood, have experienced trauma, and their environment isn't the best. You can't judge adolescents for trying to provide support to their family or witnessing/dealing with something a child shouldn't experience in the first place. But these things aren't often taken into consideration. This book forced me to look closer at my own upbringing. My father talked about all the good Bill Clinton did., but that's not the case. The policies he implemented destroys families and individuals. This book inspires me to take action. Many of the punishments a person must endure once they are labeled a felony I was unaware of such as voting. If you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem. The book educates, inspires, and triggers your emotions. It's definitely a must read.