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

Pixabay/Barbara Rosner

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019

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.

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

Michelle Alexander ignited a national conversation when she published "The New Jim Crow" in 2010. Almost 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.

Mass incarceration and racial injustice found in our criminal justice system are the focus of Alexander’s book and her work since then. She joins guest host Erik Spanberg to discuss these stark realities and how to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.


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

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.