Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups
Chapter 2 of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow focuses on how the system of mass incarceration works. Alexander concentrates on the "War on Drugs," because "convictions for drug offenses are the single most important cause of the explosion in incarceration rates in the United States." Early on, she dispels myths, noting that the war is not "aimed at ridding the nation of drug 'kingpins' or big-time drug dealers," and the drug war is not "principally concerned with dangerous drugs" (60).
Throughout the chapter Alexander explains the way that the system works, and she points out ways that the drug war frequently functions to undermine many civil liberties. She further demonstrates how people who commit minor offenses, and in far too many cases, people who are innocent become involved in the criminal justice system.
Of the issues Alexander covered, what was one topic or idea that seemed to most challenge long-held beliefs (or myths) that you held? Or, what aspect of mass incarceration that she addressed seemed most unsettling to you in the chapter?