Today many states are spending more tax revenues warehousing non-violent drug abusers in state and local lock-ups than in educating their children. In 2001 the average annual operating cost per State inmate was $22,650 while the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent $22,632 per inmate.
In July 2006, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average per-student expenditure in public schools was $8,310 in 2003-04.
Professor Alexander takes us on a historical journey from the days of slavery when African Americans, especially men, were depicted as inhuman and potential menaces to law-abiding society.
Her book is extremely informative as well as disturbing. Alexander expertly exposes the war against black men executed by our elected officials, our courts, our law enforcement and the media both historically and in contemporary America. She is not a hysterical purveyor of a lame conspiracy theory. She is a scholar who utilizes historical facts and empirical data to provide convincing evidence of what so many of us have known for a generation: Our government is systematically criminalizing our children and, as a result a great number of them effectively become second class citizens in their native land.
Professor Alexander states that our so-called “colorblind” laws and “blind” legal system are a travesty. Utilizing court decisions and academic research she proves to the reader the fabric covering Lady Justice’s blinded eyes is actually translucent. She explains in horrific detail that as a result of targeted law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing, African Americans in the 21st Century are being thrown into a caste system with the results being nearly exactly what our forefathers faced during the nearly 100-years of Jim Crow, second-class citizenship.
She illustrates to us that the massive incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system. A new segregation based once again in the law of the land.
Alexander’s premise is that the Jim Crow Laws of our segregated past actually morphed from laws which were written to disenfranchise women and the poor into laws which limited the citizenship rights of African Americans.
The growing racial divide in the U.S. is one which includes the formation of a new undercaste in America (African Americans and Hispanics) that loses its normal rights at the prison gates and often never recovers them.
Here are a few facts that run counter to the myth that our nation has grown beyond utilizing race to define an individual: