|Tonight on TDS, US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder; and on TCR, Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.|
|Guest of the week.
"Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole" than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.The book is called The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and you've probably seen some discussion about it (and the issues it raises) around these parts the past few years. Here's the about page from the booksite:
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status"denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has been dubbed the "secular bible of a new social movement" by numerous commentators, including Cornel West, and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.Lots of stuff -- review snippets (including one from Daily Kos), study guides, excerpt, a substantial "Take Action" page -- at NewJimCrow.com. And there are huge numbers of reviews & related articles out there on the net. Here's Kirkus:
A civil-rights lawyer"s disturbing view of why young black men make up the majority of the more than two million people now in America"s prisons.It was re-released in paperback in January (revised edition, with a forward by Cornel West) which is probably why it was written up in the NYTimes in March. Could also have been all those awards she's been picking up, too. Here's a taste of that NYTimes article:
Garry McCarthy, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, did not expect to hear anything too startling when he appeared at a conference on drug policy organized last year by an African-American minister in Newark, where he was the police director.It goes on to mention a white (and currently Republican Michigan State Senator who was motivated to consider decriminalizing marijuana after hearing Alexander,and then talks about "some of the book"s detractors". Specifically, James Forman Jr., a clinical professor at Yale Law School and a former public defender, in this review (my emphasis):
In her account of the prison boom, Alexander employs a rhetorical strategy common to critics of mass imprisonment: she speaks almost exclusively about the war on drugs. This avoids drawing our attention to the less sympathetic violent offender....But it is ironic that Alexander should concentrate on the most sympathetic defendants, for she criticizes civil rights organizations like the early NAACP for avoiding criminal cases unless the lawyers were convinced of the defendants' innocence. In her view, "Challenging mass incarceration requires something civil rights advocates have long been reluctant to do: advocacy on behalf of criminals." Just so. And not only the drug kind.Well, I haven't read the book, and I'm not even an amateur-expert on the topic. I think that Federal/State differences there might be worth looking into, though, and Forman seems to assume that no non-drug offenses are in any way related to drug-war issues. Also, he doesn't discuss false convictions/imprisonment, though he mentions the Sentencing Project in passing:
Alexander claims that mass imprisonment's true targets are blacks, and that incarcerated whites are collateral damage. But that"s a lot of collateral damage. And in strategic terms, it is clear that this approach to mass incarceration has costs. ...Thus the Jim Crow analogy threatens to undermine a goal that Alexander and Perkinson share: forging a multiracial grassroots movement against mass imprisonment.Tactics! An activist/social-dynamics issue I'm (all too) familiar with! Yay!
Ahem. Anyway, I felt the NYTimes account over-emphasized Forman's disagreements with Alexander, despite including this:
In a telephone interview, Professor Forman, a son of the civil rights leader James Forman, praised the book"s "spectacular" success in raising awareness of the issue. And some activists say their political differences with Professor Alexander"s account matter less than the overall picture she paints of a brutal and unjust system."Some." Ah.
Anyway. Looking forward to this interview. And keeping my eye on this:
|Up this week:
THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART, Comedy Central
(listings and occasional links via The Late Night TV Page, some links & more guest info available at thedailyshow.com/guests, colbertnewshub.com, and a judiciously-used google.com.)