The New Jim Crow

2232 words 9 pages
The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Revised Edition


© 20 I 0, 201 2 by Michelle Alexander All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, without written permission from the publisher.

Request for permission to reproduce selections from this book should be mailed to: Permissions Department, The New Press. 38 Greene Street, New York, NY 10013.

Published in the United States by The New Press, New York, 2012 Distributed by Perseus Distribution

ISBN 978-1 - ) 9558-643·8 (pbk.)

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Alexander, Michelle.
The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblind ncss I
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In two short decades, between 1980 and 2000, the number of people incarcerated in our nation's prisons and jails soared from roughly 300,000 to more than 2 million. By the end of 2007, more than 7 million Americans-or one in every 31 adults-were behind bars, on probation, or on parole. 7
We begin our exploration of the drug war at the point of entry-arrest by e police-and then consider how the system of mass incarceration is structured to reward mass drug arrests and facilitate the conviction and impirisonment of an unprecedented number of Americans, whether guilty or innocent. In subsequent chapters, we will consider how the system specifi1ally targets people of color and then relegates them to a second-class status
,,.. alogous to Jim Crow. At this point, we simply take stock of the means by '• hich the War on Drugs facilitates the roundup and lockdown of an extraor­ "inary percentage of the U.S. population.

Rules of the Game

:Few legal rules meaningfully constrain the police in the War on Drugs. This imay sound like an overstatement, but upon examination it proves accurate.
The absence of significant constraints on the exercise of police discretion is a key feature of the drug war's design. It has made the roundup of millions ,of Americans for nonviolent drug offenses relatively easy.
With only a few exceptions, the Supreme


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