Charlotte Talks: Author Michelle Alexander Says America Loves Prisons. Blame Jim Crow

Jul 16, 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Most people consider Jim Crow an antiquated era that we, as a nation, have evolved from. And yet, there are more African American men ensnared in the criminal justice system today than were enslaved in 1850.

This show is part of a special series examining America's history of racial injustice. It originally aired in 2019.

"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander
Credit The New Press

Michelle Alexander ignited a national conversation when she published "The New Jim Crow" in 2010. A decade later, she argues not only that America’s criminal justice system continues to be racially biased, but that we live in a new age of segregation.

Today, the U.S. accounts for 5% of the world’s population and has 25% of the world’s prisoners. We imprison 1 million more people than China, which cost taxpayers $68 billion in 2010. Black Americans make up approximately 14% of the U.S. population, but Black men make up approximately 40% of all prison inmates.

To conclude our series examining America’s history of racial injustice, we revisit our conversation with guest host Erik Spanberg and Michelle Alexander to discuss these stark realities and how our nation might move forward.


Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness"