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Mass Incarceration Essay

Michelle Alexander is a civil rights lawyer, advocate, Associate Professor of law at Ohio State and the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of colorblindness. In her presentation she talks about how mass incarceration is happening in America. The overwhelmingly disproportionate incarceration of African Americans constitutes a “new Jim Crow era” that singles out people of color and relegates them to second class citizenship status. Through extensive documentation Alexander shows that Reagan’s “War on Drugs” was developed at a time before cocaine hit urban streets, and was used to whip up political support from southern whites who resented the advances made by blacks. She shows how people of color have been unfairly targeted in the drug war with police raids focusing on urban black neighborhoods and not suburban areas or college campuses even though black and white drug use is virtually the same. Blacks were given stiffer penalties that often restricted their ability to vote, work and go to school upon release. She shows how racism is institutionalized so well that it can appear to be “colorblind” to both white conservatives and liberals. I think Michelle Alexander is a good public speaker because she is very educated and well developed.

I think her delivery was effective because she have good research with plenty of references. Alexander’s overall message is that “home of the free” has incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any other country. And that the increase in our prison population since 1980 can be traced not to rise crime rates but to changes in policies, especially to harsh sentencing, supported by race-based surveillance, in the war on drugs. Once someone is caught in the system, the history of a felony relegates them to underclass status forever. I agree with Michelle Alexander because I care about racial justice and equality. I think the audience liked her presentation because she informed her audience about the current state of our justice system, the experience of police encounters, and how the law serve to disempowered people and make them disappear. She also offers insight to a system that affects and effects each and every person living in America. One thing I think was missing from the presentation is she left out parental guidance because as a parent no matter what your financial background is it is important that our youth is taught not to engage in criminal activity or you will be punish for it.


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