Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The New Jim Crow: Chapter 3

Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups

Based on our readings of chapter 2 of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, people mentioned being unsettled by "harsh sentencing of non-violent crimes," inadequate legal representation, and "innocents becoming caught up in the system." Folks offered useful and valid points.

So now we turn our attention to chapter 3, "The Color of Justice." Alexander notes that the "rates and patterns of drug crime do not explain the glaring racial disparities in our criminal justice system" (99). She goes on to point out that the reason that so many more black men are incarcerated though is a result of "racial bias inherent in the drug war" (100).

Alexander spends considerable time in the chapter addressing the question: "how exactly does a formally colorblind criminal system achieve such racially discriminatory results?"

What aspect of Alexander's explanation did you find most compelling or worth considering and why?



Nicholas M. said...

What I found to be most compelling is that "In at least fifteen states, blacks are admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate from twenty to fifty-seven times greater than that of white men." Granted, the main cause of elevated levels of incarceration of African Americans are a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time like in Erma's case, but I am still a little mind boggled by how much more likely blacks will receive prison charges than whites. Racial equality in our criminal justice system needs to be addressed.

Robert F said...

The most compelling thing she argued was how whites are even more likely to use drugs than blacks, but there are more blacks incarcerated for drugs. The fact that there are most whites than blacks in America and the fact that whites are more likely to use, but more blacks have been incarcerated does not add up to me. As Americans we try to view our legal system as equal, but in reality it is not.

Terry Taborn said...

What I thought was compelling was her choice for the title. "The Color of Justice". While many racial boundaries have been crossed and progress has been made, we cannot forget where we came from. Back in the day only white men were allowed to be police officers,judges, and other positions of authority. I believe the reason that we still see racial inequality in the justice system is that there are still some racist people in charge. The civil rights movement helped to break down some racial boundaries but that was just 60 years ago. People who opposed the movement then still oppose it now and are spreading their belief. I'm not saying that every white police officer that arrests a black man is racist but that these older generation of racists have spread their beliefs to them so much that black men are seen as criminals.

Josh Jones said...

I agree with Robert F. and Nicholas M. on the most compelling thing is whites have a higher chance of using drugs compared to blacks, but have lower incarceration rates. Although both sides are guilty of a crime it is a shame that some times only one side will pay for their act of deviance. This is just another reason why the justice system is not made equal for everyone.

Wole A said...

While I read the most compelling thing Michelle Alexander discussed about was how whites are using more drugs and have more chances to do them than blacks, but more blacks end up in prison on drug charges. I have personally seen this through out my life and it shows that racism truly still exists.

Dj Sterling said...

The points that I found worth considering were the ones that Alexander made about the nonviolent offenders taking up a surprising percentage more in the criminal justice system vs. the violent offenders. She mentions how "homicide offenders account for 0.4 percent of the past decade's growth in the federal prison population, while drug offenders account for nearly 61 percent of that expansion" (101). I found this information staggering because it shows that the criminal justice system pays more attention to the nonviolent crimes vs the violent ones. And as Alexander talked about before, the nonviolent crimes that are being committed are not being treated equally to all races.