The New Jim Crow

This session will explore the causes and consequences of mass incarceration. Why does the United States incarcerate such large proportion of its population and such a disproportionately large segment of its African American population? What are the historical roots of criminalization, and what intellectual and policy mechanisms created mass incarceration in the late twentieth century? What is the role of race in this phenomenon?


Discussion Materials:

Discussion Questions:

  • What is mass incarceration and when and why did it occur in the United States?
  • What have the consequences of mass incarceration been?
  • What do you think the solution(s) might be?

Some Additional Resources:

  • Clare Foran, “What Can the U.S. Do About Mass Incarceration?” The Atlantic, April 28, 2016.
  • Mass Incarceration, Visualized
  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012).
  • Michelle Alexander on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and Institutional Racism
  • Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton, eds., Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (New York: Verso, 2016).
  • Naomi Murakawa, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • Elizabeth Kai Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).
  • Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (New York: Penguin Random House, 2016).


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