The New Jim Crow highlights the racial dimensions of the War on Drugs. It argues that federal drug policy unfairly targets communities of color, keeping millions of young, black men in a cycle of poverty and behind bars.
The book begins by disproving claims that racism is dead. Those who believe that full equality been achieved would do well to notice many African Americans' reality today. An extraordinary amount of blacks are still barred from voting because in nearly every state, as convicted felons cannot vote. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans have served time in prison as a result of drug convictions and are branded felons for life. Voting is also barred for those currently incarcerated. Alexander uncovers the system of mass incarceration: a system comprised of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control criminals both in and out of prison. The greatest instigator of mass incarceration is the War on Drugs. Rather than combat drug activity, the War on Drugs has served as a deliberate strategy to control people of color and remove them from the political process, which is racist in both application and design. Alexander suggests that the War on Drugs and mass incarceration constitute a "rebirth of caste" in America. Beginning with slavery and continuing with Jim Crow segregation, mass incarceration prevents places entire groups of people into discriminatory positions in society, permanently.
Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don't know how to face. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is such a work"
— The New York Review of Books
"An explosive debut ... alarming, provocative and convincing."
— Kirkus Reviews
“The New Jim Crow offers a devastating account of a legal system doing its job perfectly well. We have simply replaced one caste system with another one.”
— Forbes Magazine
"[C]arefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable."
— Publishers Weekly
“Invaluable. . . . The New Jim Crow is a timely and stunning guide to the labyrinth of propaganda, discrimination, and racist policies masquerading under other names that comprises what we call justice in America.”
— Daily Kos
“[An] instant classic.... The New Jim Crow is a grand wake-up call in the midst of a long slumber of indifference to the poor and vulnerable.”
— Cornel West
Michelle Alexander served for several years as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, which spearheaded a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. Alexander directed the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School and was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As an associate at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, she specialized in plaintiff-side class action suits alleging race and gender discrimination.
Alexander now holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State.
Alexander has litigated numerous class action discrimination cases and worked on criminal justice reform issues. She is a recipient of a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship of the Open Society Institute.