Alexander: Prisoners Must Be Counted When Looking at U.S. Segregation

Michelle Alexander, author of the The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness [this month’s FHC book group choice], recently wrote a piece on titled “The Myth of Desegregation: A recent study claims segregation has hit the lowest point in a century. Here’s why it’s premature to celebrate”.

Alexander argues that the Manhattan Institute report is problematic because it does not even mention prisoners in relation to segregation. She states that today’s mass incarceration has led to a residential segregation that is more extreme than during the days of Jim Crow,  not less.

The nation’s prison population (disproportionately made up of predominately poor people and people of color) is at an all time high which means that if you do not consider the hundreds or thousands of people who are currently removed from their individual communities then you are ignoring a large part of the data when analyzing segregation rates.

Alexander also notes that not only are millions of our nations people of color “locked in literal cages — en masse” but that if people are released from prison they are

“labeled criminals and felons [and] can be legally discriminated against for the rest of their lives in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits — even denied food stamps. Although most people sent to prison are convicted of relatively minor, nonviolent crimes and drug offenses, they are treated as perpetual threats and locked in a permanent undercaste”.

Alexander urges us all to keep prisoners in mind when considering racial equality in the United States.

You can read Michelle Alexander’s entire piece here.

Local prison related organizations:

Join a FHC book group to discuss Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.



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