After reading chapter 3 and 4 of Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age
of colorblindness. The New Press: New York. and the two attached articles, respond to the discussion:
In chapter 3 Alexander describes a study in which respondents were asked to close their eyes and
envision a drug user then describe that person. The results found that 95% of people described a black person. Now I could ask you to do the same thing and be honest with what you see (although I certainly won’t ask you to share your vision). However, there is a much larger issue here for the criminal justice system. Due to the widespread discretion that we give to police officers (and honestly most every other agent of the CJ system)
personal biases, even if unintentional, such as this can have a profound impact on outcomes. I want you to
carefully consider where this view of drug users comes from, and how it impacts the criminal justice
Police officers, lawyers, correctional staff are all just people so if 95% of the public views drug offenders
as black then it is likely that 95% of these agents do as well. Why? What impact does this (according to
Alexander at least inaccurate) perception have on the CJ system?
In chapter 4 Alexander discusses the collateral consequences that attach to criminal conviction even
without incarceration and almost always without the defendant’s knowledge. I have posted two articles to the supplemental material area that discuss some of these issues. One of the articles discusses the impact of
Paternal incarceration on children, and the other is unique in that it asks people working in the criminal
justice system to consider colllateral consequences. After reviewing this material, do you agree with Alexander?
Her contention is that all of the collateral consequences help ensure a racial caste system. That is while
incarceration is effective at controlling minorities it is really all of the collateral consequences that ensure
once convicted those minorities can never rise up. So is that the reason for the collateral consequences? If not then what is?