The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

This well-researched history of modern mass incarceration in the United States has become a classic in the racial justice literature. The author's background as a legal scholar contributes to the delivery of a profound and often disturbing account of the U.S. criminal justice system's role in damaging our country's communities of color. For those who want to become more informed about the complexity of race issues in America, this book provides an invaluable account of the challenges before us.

336 pages. ©2012.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted February 15, 2023


This is an informative, uncomfortable, critically important book and (in my opinion) should be required reading for all alumni. Like many of us, I was raised in rural Oregon and my education generally lacked much (any?) discussion of racial equity. This book was instrumental in helping me begin to unlearn/relearn, I cannot recommend it enough.


Review posted January 25, 2023


This should be required reading for everyone. It looks at the racial prejudice prevalent in the prison system.


Review posted November 27, 2022


This book is a must read to understand and advocate for change in American society. Although dense at times, it still boils down a complicated social process and does recognize its limitations.


Review posted October 18, 2022


I have read this as I've started my MSW program and it has been very enlightening to not only the systemic racism within or criminal justice system, but also in helping to apply this same critical lens to other systems as well. I've found that I'm referencing this book frequently and it was a great resource in connecting to other researchers, data and info on this subject. I think everyone, in any field should read this as a person within the US.


Review posted October 10, 2022


Really impactful.


Review posted August 13, 2022


great book always! learned alt.


Review posted June 30, 2022


Required Reading! We can not talk about race without talking about mainstream media role in cultural images of a race and the impact of systematic racism. This book opens the curtain on how America laws continue to support white supremacy and continues to make money off the free labor of Black and Brown people.


Review posted May 22, 2022


This is a sobering read. I learned a great deal. We must do better for one another.


Review posted March 25, 2022


This book is very captivating and informative. It's interesting to see the dots connect on the different aspects of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, Jim Crow, and the historical intersection between classism and racism. You will definitely come away from reading this book with a more comprehensive understanding of our current racial caste system.

Alyssa Thompson

Review posted February 24, 2022


This book is so eye opening to the racial injustices we still have in America today


Review posted January 5, 2022


Very good at illuminating some of the hidden ways that racism continues to play a role in our society. Understanding things brought up in the book are the first steps towards dismantling those systems.


Review posted December 19, 2021




Review posted December 3, 2021


This book was a super interesting read! Some of the statistics were shocking and a real eye opener. Recommend to anyone curious about our criminal justice system and the injustices that take place within it.


Review posted October 13, 2021


Very detailed and informative information about social issues and problems throughout human history


Review posted October 5, 2021


Very well rounded and well iterated. I found it to be quite a good way to open my eyes to the deeply ingrained oppression seen today.


Review posted September 18, 2021


This review is going to be different than most. First of all, it is rare that just the subtitle of a book (in this case, "Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness") is so searingly specific, yet so entirely descriptive of the breadth of the book's topic that no other description might be needed. Second, it is unusual that a book is both foundationally influential to a movement (in this case, Black Lives Matter) and profoundly shaped by it. As Abram X. Kendi said, Michelle Alexander's book "struck the spark that would eventually light the fire of Black Lives Matter." Or as Carolyn Copeland said, "During the past decade, no single book was more directly responsible for reshaping how the American public understands race and mass incarceration than Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow." Read this book at your own risk, or avoid it at your own risk, but understand what's at stake when you make your decision. If you read it and grapple with what it says, you won't be able to look at carceral systems or social class inequuties in the U.S. the same again, and you will more deeply understand the profound and disturbing irony of Americans calling a deeply biased and discriminatory interwoven layers of institutions and systems a system of "justice." Or, don't read this book and keep your head in the sand while a global movement heeds Michelle Alexander's call to re-envision the world, by urging the rest of us to reconsider the meaning of news headlines and shared events that, like the murders of Brionna Taylor and George Floyd, and the resulting BLM protests were a catalyst for many to reckon with how our country has, in Michelle's words, "birthed [a new] caste system - a system of mass Incarceration - that [has] caged millions of poor people and people of color and relegated millions more to a permanent second-class status... This new caste system... [is] a system of mass incarceration unlike anything that the world has ever seen" (Preface to 10th Anniversary Edition of The New Jim Crow). In other words, your choice is to stay (color)blind, or to start taking off the blinders and see the ugly American realities of racial caste and racial discrimination - or even better, decide to join the movement to change it. Which will you choose?


Review posted August 26, 2021


This book is a must read. It really illustrates how even if laws were taken off the books, the repercussions of previous laws will last for generations. It is so crucial for all of us to understand this in our every day lives in order to contribute to the fight for racial justice.


Review posted August 12, 2021


Great book! A book we all need to read!


Review posted July 20, 2021


Anyone who is on the fence about whether there is institutional racism in the prison system MUST read this book! It is eye-opening, to say the least. This book will help to understand the struggle that people of color face in the US prison system. It is equal parts heartbreaking and motivating.


Review posted June 10, 2021


This book was so eye-opening to me. I'm sad to say I knew very little about the impact that mass incarceration has on individuals and communities, especially after the physical imprisonment has ended. My understanding of where we're at as a society and the direction we need to head has expanded so much because of this book. Eternally grateful.


Review posted May 3, 2021


Outstanding clarity and depth on a topic that we logically must address as we engage in social and racial justice. This is a timely and well discussed topic.


Review posted April 28, 2021


This is such an important book, and one that I think everyone should read. There is so much here to unpack, demonstrating the way that the war on drugs and mass incarceration are systematically racist and extend the systems of Jim Crow and segregation.


Review posted April 28, 2021


This was not an easy read, both because of the content and because it was a bit wordy and academic. But so eye-opening and important.


Review posted April 17, 2021


The New Jim Crow is a necessary read. I appreciate the in-depth analysis of how the mass incarceration system has been used to continue control over black bodies. It's definitely a book I will need to reread to continue absorbing the information.


Review posted April 16, 2021


This book is an honest look into our flawed justice system. It is essential reading so that we can look into dismantling it and moving forward so that all can heal. Mass incarceration is a HUGE problem in the United States, and this book tells why it needs to end now.


Review posted April 8, 2021


This book was very informative and thought provoking, I personally learned a lot. Many of the things talked about in this book I did not realize. I would recommend this book.


Review posted March 26, 2021


I highly recommend this book. While the content is heavy, the book is easy to read. Alexander argues that mass incarnation is the new Jim Crow. People of color, especially Black men, are disproportionately penalized by our legal and police systems, even though rates of crime and drug use are the same for people of all races. Which makes us question, why is the US legal system the way it is? This makes a great book club book. I found myself connecting the book to current events and bringing it up in daily conversations.


Review posted March 6, 2021


A must read for anyone interested in the social justice movement. Michelle Alexander takes an academic approach referencing court cases and specific examples to shed light on the dark history of mass incarceration in the US. This book will educate readers on one of the largest problems we face as a society and the repercussions it has for some of the most vulnerable communities. Truly a must-read, even the most educated on our criminal justice system can gain a new perspective when faced with the facts presented in this book.


Review posted March 1, 2021


This book was very thoroughly researched and very effective in presenting timely information about the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and Black communities in the U.S. It was very dense (it read more like a textbook, in my opinion) but the information it presented was necessary and compelling.


Review posted December 23, 2020


"The New Jim Crow" is such an important book for everyone to read. This 10th anniversary edition has an excellent introduction as well. I read this with my husband,and we both learned a lot and had some meaningful discussions. It is well-researched and well-written. Thank you for offering this book!


Review posted November 4, 2020


This book was eye opening. I feel this is a book everyone should read. This is a book that I will revisit in the future.


Review posted October 8, 2020


In the climate of today, this is a must read.


Review posted October 1, 2020


Eye opening look at oppression in the US.


Review posted September 17, 2020


This book was recommended to me by an anti-racism educator that I follow on Instagram. I found it well written and informative. A must read for anyone interested in social justice and anti-racist work.