Alexander came to write this powerful book after seeing and studying the racial bias in the criminal justice system while working with the ACLU Oakland chapter. Not only did she see the bias in the system, but she also noticed how the criminal justice system itself was constructed to make people of color, specifically black people, second-class citizens. Her main premise is the comparison and similarity between the criminal justice system and the Jim Crow laws from the early 20th century. Prisoners and those who are released back into society are marginalized in every facet of American society, which Alexander argues has created a new racial under caste- a group defined wholly by race that is permanently locked out of mainstream white society by law, custom and practice. "The United States has almost always had a racial under caste. What is most striking about the design of the current caste system is how closely it resembles its predecessor. There is an elaborate system of control, complete with political disenfranchisement and legalized discrimination in every major realm of economic and social life" (ch 5). With a detailed history of race from slavery through reconstruction and Jim Crow through the war on drugs and mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow offers a complete look at the laws and practices of the government to continuously disenfranchise black people in this country.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The Atlantic, Oct. 2015, ch. I-IX.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author and national correspondent for The Atlantic who frequently writes about culture, politics, and social issues. In this extensive article, Coates juxtaposes with the 1965 research report by Daniel Patrick Moynihan titled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." The report, originally meant to remain an internal government document, argued that the federal government was underestimating the damage done to black families by "three centuries of sometimes unimaginable mistreatment" along with a "racist virus in the American bloodstream" which would continuously plague black people. Coates writes this article from the present perspective of mass incarceration in 2015 and touches on what exactly has happened to the black family post Moynihan 1965 report. Throughout the article, Coates quotes large portions of Moynihan's report; one of the most relevant is:
"That the Negro American has survived at all is extraordinary. Lesser people might simply have died out, as indeed others have But it may not be supposed that the Negro American community has not paid a fearful price for the incredible mistreatment to which it has been subjected over the past three centuries" (Moynihan). The destruction of the black family is not coincidental, nor is it a new concept; it has been an established part of American society since before the Constitution was even thought of.
Forman, James Jr. "Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the...