In case you don’t have it in you to read the book–which I highly recommend as something you SHOULD read–here is a very nice overview. Do not let yourself believe that incarceration in the United States of America is doing much more than creating a new slave class out of the poorest among us. And it is doing so precisely by criminalizing what is arguably a psycho-physical medical condition of being addicted to a substance.
The War on Drugs, and its corollary the War on Terror, will sooner or later make every American a criminal waiting to be arrested unless we can take back our justice system from the prison industry and the puritans who refuse to learn more about the realities of drug use. Besides this book, I also recommend regularly reading the Prison Legal News website. It is chilling to learn what is being done in the name of the “people” under the guise of “justice.”
The New Jim Crow (complete title The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) is a name given to a category of race-related social and political phenomena in the United States and the name of a book published by The New Press and written by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. Alexander deals in the book primarily with the issue of the current mass levels of incarceration (the United States, with 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s prisoners) and other means of societal suppression of African-American men (Latino men to a lesser degree), and the social consequences of the policies described, for the “people of color” and for the country as a whole.
According to Alexander, the majority of young black men in large American cities are “warehoused in prisons” (their labor no longer needed in the globalized economy) or, after having criminal records and labeled as “felons”, are permanently trapped in a second-class status. The conventional point of view holds that discrimination has mostly ended with the Civil rights movement reforms of the 1960s. However, the U.S. criminal justice system uses the “War on Drugs” as its primary tool in the continuation of many of the traditional and new forms of discrimination.