Books: Non-Fiction

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

Book — Non-fiction. By Michelle Alexander. Introduction by Cornel West. 2010, updated 10th-anniversary edition released in 2020. 336 pages.
A critical analysis of the role the justice system plays in the oppression of African Americans in the United States.

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001-
Themes: African American, Criminal Justice & Incarceration, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, 10th anniversary edition“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” — from The New Jim Crow

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community — and all of us — to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. [Publisher’s description.]

A longtime civil rights advocate and litigator, Michelle Alexander was a 2005 Soros Justice Fellow. She holds a joint appointment at the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Columbus, Ohio, where she lives. The New Jim Crow is her first book.

ISBN: 9781595586438 | The New Press

Related Information
US_prison_pop_1925-2013_450pxwState Incarceration Rates

The United States has 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years. Click image to read more.

state_incaration_rateState by State Map of Incarceration Rates
Produced by the Sentencing Project. Click image to see full roll over version.

Watch a 2010 interview with Michelle Alexander on C-SPAN’s The Washington Journal.

Watch a 2013 speech Michelle Alexander gave at the University of Tennessee event hosted by the Africana Studies Program.

The New Jim Crow website

Companion website to the book that includes information for organizing and taking action.

Stop the School to Prison Pipeline Issue

This special issue of Rethinking Schools on the School to Prison Pipeline features an exclusive interview with Michelle Alexander on “Schools and the New Jim Crow.”