1. M. Alexander claims that the main explanation of why so many people are sent to jail in the U.S. today is deeply wrong. Explain her argument by referring to the various examples she mentions to backup her point. (see p. 1-2)
In the introduction of “The New Jim Crow”, Michelle Alexander claims that the “facts” given to start a War on Drugs during Regan’s presidency are all a lie. In fact, Alexander argues that the war on drugs was not a response to a crisis caused by crack cocaine in inner-city neighborhoods; as most people think it was. Instead she maintains: “an illegal drug crisis suddenly appeared in the black community after—not before—a drug war had been declared” (Alexander, 6). That is to say, the illegal drug crisis in the black community started because of the drug war itself, not the other way around. Similarly, she asserts that: “the War on Drugs began at a time when illegal drug use was on the decline” (Alexander, 6). In short, there was not really a crisis when the Drug War had been started. Then, if it is factually proven that there wasn’t a crisis with drug use, which is the real reason behind this war? Alexander suggests that there had been hidden intentions of the actual use of this Drug War. She proposes that it was used as an excuse for United States government to exercise social control over black communities and minorities.
2. Why is it that racial disparities in the rates of incarceration “cannot be explained by rates of drug crimes”?
Michelle Alexander states that racial disparities in the rates of incarceration cannot be explained by rates of drug crimes because : “Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates” (Alexander, 7). That is to say, there is not a difference of color in the rates of people who use and sell drugs, they are the same. However, there is a difference in the rates of incarceration of people of color and those who are white. Actually, Alexander emphasizes: “In some states, black men have been admitted to prison on drug charges at rates twenty to fifty times greater than those of white men. And in major cities wracked by the drug war, as many as 80 percent of young African American men now have criminal records” (Alexander, 7). To conclude, people of all colors do use and sell illegal drugs, however the black community and minorities are the ones’ obsessively persecuted and hardly punished for those crimes.
3. How do you understand the phrase: “the American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history.”?
I understand from it that the American penal system has become a tool for social control. Also, I understand that this system has so much power, that it can’t be compared with no other in the world, as well as it has nothing to be compared to with the prior penal systems in the totality of the world’s history.