'The New Jim Crow'

In an excerpt from her new book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander argues that prison has become the tool to minimize black political power.

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In my experience, people who have been incarcerated rarely have difficulty identifying the parallels between these systems of social control. Once they are released, they are often denied the right to vote, excluded from juries, and relegated to a racially segregated and subordinated existence.

Through a web of laws, regulations, and informal rules, all of which are powerfully reinforced by social stigma, they are confined to the margins of mainstream society and denied access to the mainstream economy. They are legally denied the ability to obtain employment, housing, and public benefits--much as African Americans were once forced into a segregated, second-class citizenship in the Jim Crow era.

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