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BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS, IS AN ENLIGHTENING READ




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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, By Michelle Alexander (The New Press, New York, N.Y., 2010, 290 pages.)

 

Book Review by Dennis Moore

 

October 8, 2010 (San Diego) -- Michelle Alexander, former director of the Racial Justice Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Northern California and a former law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court, has written a provocative and thought-provoking book about race and incarceration, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

 

She created a buzz in San Diego on October 1st and 2nd, bringing her book and message to a reception at the Jacobs Center and St. Stephens Cathedral. This scholar, wife and mother challenges the civil rights community, and all of us, to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

 

Alexander states, “The fact that more than half of the young black men in any large American city are currently under the control of the criminal justice system (or saddled with criminal records) is not – as many argue – just a symptom of poverty or poor choices, but rather evidence of a new racial caste system at work.”

 

My own son was one of those young black men. To see my high school “Honor Roll” and star athlete son, who had received a scholarship in architecture to Syracuse University, being brought into court in chains from an Illinois prison, was painful beyond belief, for it conjured up images of us as a people being brought to this continent from Africa in chains. Thankfully, my son was ultimately sentenced to 4 months in a “boot camp,” and not the 30 years in prison that he was facing. A lot of African-American parents would not be that fortunate. Still, the stigma and residue of incarceration hangs over him, despite the fact that he has been gainfully employed and leading a model life since being released from “boot camp” more than five years ago. My son, Damien, proudly wears a tattoo on his arm that says: “Only God Can Judge Him!”

 

Alexander states in the introduction of her book: “Knowing as I do the difficulty of seeing what most everyone insists does not exist, I anticipate that this book will be met with skepticism or something worse. For some, the characterization of mass incarceration as a ‘racial caste system’ may seem like a gross exaggeration, if not hyperbole.” She further states that “Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems. So is our current system of incarceration.”

 

The author offers statistics to support her thesis, stating, “The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, dwarfing the rates of nearly every developed country, even surpassing those in highly repressive regimes like Russia, China, and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the United States, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.” Statistics also show that 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. ( Human Rights Watch, Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, HRW Reports vol. 12, no. 2 [New York, 2000]). Alexander also states in her book that if there are significant differences in the surveys to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in drug crime than people of color. (See, e.g., Howard N. Snyder and Melissa Sickman, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).

 

Perhaps, most profound is the introduction to Alexander’s book: “Like Jim Crow (and slavery), mass incarceration operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race.” She further states, “Since the nation’s founding, African Americans repeatedly have been controlled through institutions such as slavery and Jim Crow, which appear to die, but then are reborn in new form, tailored to the needs and constraints of the time.”

 

To more fully comprehend and follow along in Alexander’s book, it would help to understand the history and concept of “Jim Crow.”

 

Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than just a series of rigid anti-Black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-Black racism. As I was born near the end of the Jim Crow era, I am painfully aware of the signs that would state: “No Dogs, Negros, Mexicans,” and signs stating; “Colored Served In Rear,” as well as the drinking fountains designating separate for whites and colored.

 

As I was born in Charleston, Missouri, shortly before William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame starred in a movie made there by Roger Corwin about race relations titled “Shame” (The Intruder), I am even more painfully aware of the vestiges of Jim Crow, as pointed out in Alexander’s book. In this movie, which can be obtained from Blockbuster and other media outlets, it actually shows friends of mine that I grew up with some 45 years ago, along with the Jim Crow customs.

 

Alexander eloquently states in her book: “I argue that the shame and stigma of the ‘prison label’ is, in many respects, more damaging to the African American community than the shame and stigma associated with Jim Crow. The criminalization and demonization of black men has turned the black community against itself, unraveling community and family relationships, decimating networks of mutual support, and intensifying the shame and self-hate experienced by the pariah caste.” I can’t argue her point either, for I have seen and lived through both sides of the issue, being born in the Jim Crow era, and ministering to incarcerated inmates in Illinois and California.

 

It is hard to imagine this “shame and stigma of the ‘prison label’ being more damaging to the African American community than the shame and stigma associated with Jim Crow, as Alexander states, especially when you examine the horrible legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, as graphically depicted in another book, Without Sanctuary, by Hilton Als and James Allen. It depicts the numerous lynching of African American men.

 

This scholarly examination and critique of race, The New Jim Crow, clearly states in the introduction of the book: “It justifies a legal, social, and economic boundary between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Chapter 5 also explores some of the differences among slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration, most significantly the fact that mass incarceration is designed to warehouse a population deemed disposable – unnecessary to the functioning of the new global economy – while earlier systems of control were designed to exploit and control black labor.” Try to explain that to the mostly black and brown brothers that I regularly visit and minister to at RJ Donovan Prison in San Diego County, and those that I once ministered to in Illinois jails and prisons!

 

These incarcerated African American men that Alexander speak of in her book are not nameless and faceless men. They are a Christopher Greene, a young black man with a documented history of mental illness, that I have visited with and correspond with regularly; They are Andre Harrison, who has served timed in RJ Donovan Prison, and is now out trying to maintain a job, that I mentor; they are “Eddie,” still serving time at RJ Donovan Prison, who recently pleaded with me at a worship service at the prison to continue coming out there to visit and participate in the services; they are a Reggie McMillin, who is attempting to escape the unfair and misapplied designation of his being a sexual predator, now that he has been out of prison for a number of years; they are my own three paternal brothers, who were once incarcerated at the same time; they are a “Dwight,” a young black man formerly at RJ Donovan that I had befriended, serving triple-life; What’s up with that, as if a life sentence is not sufficient?

 

They are a Mustafa Abdullah, a longtime and childhood friend of mine, that recently got released from prison due to changes to sentencing guidelines (crack cocaine), as Alexander refers to in her book; They are a Rev. Dennis Malone, now the director of the San Diego chapter of “All of Us or None,” a support organization of formerly incarcerated men, that Alexander also refers to in her book. In anticipation of my interviewing the author of The New Jim Crow, Rev. Malone indicated to me: “Exposing those exploiting the incarcerated for private economical gains within our community is more harmful than outside exploitation.”

 

Surprisingly to me, the author states that “Clinton – more than any other president – created the current undercaste.” In her book, Alexander states: “To the contrary, in 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowed he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he. True to his word, just weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, Clinton chose to fly home to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally impaired black man who had so little conception of what was about to happen to him that he asked for the dessert from his last meal to be saved for him until the morning. After the execution, Clinton remarked, ‘I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I’m soft on crime.’”

 

In further regard to the incarceration and subsequent execution of this mentally ill black man in Arkansas, in a one-on-one interview with the author of The New Jim Crow on October 1, 2010, in the offices of the United African American Ministerial Action Council (UAAMAC) in San Diego, I asked Ms. Alexander her viewpoint on the incarceration of men with a documented history of mental illness. She said that she felt it was a human rights violation, suggesting that these men should be given treatment at an alternative facility, other than prison, where the inherent conditions of prison might exacerbate the mental illness. That position seems to be embraced by the Education Director of the San Diego office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Anita Fisher.

 

Lest anyone gets the impression from reading Alexander’s book that she might be “soft on crime,” there may even be disagreement within her own household  as she indicates that her husband Carter, a federal prosecutor, does not share her views about the criminal justice system, but his different world view has not, even for a moment, compromised his ability to support her. After all, it is his job to prosecute those that Alexander profiles in this book to the fullest extent of the law.

 

That might be the crux of the matter, for there has been widespread instances of prosecutorial misconduct in regard to blacks accused of crimes, which might explain to some extent the disparity between the aforementioned statistics of blacks and whites incarcerated. In a celebrated case in my hometown of Chicago, a former police detective (John Burge) was convicted recently of torturing many blacks into confessions, which landed them on death row. The current mayor of Chicago (Richard Daley) was the prosecutor on that, and many others of these cases involving the tortured confessions of blacks. Also, just recently, another black man (John Thompson) was released from prison and death row, after it was discovered that a prosecutor had hid evidence that would have exonerated him. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case of prosecutorial misconduct, which has resulted in numerous blacks being sent to prison.

 

Further in our interview in regard to affirmative action, which she repeatedly addresses in The New Jim Crow, I mentioned to her the findings of the “SCENDIS Report” which I had been a part of while a buyer at Cingular Wireless (AT&T) in Chicago. This report, commissioned by Cingular Wireless (AT&T) in 2001, had white management specifically stating: “Affirmative action will hurt the company.” This damning document and declaration was put under court seal due to its sensitivity, which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago. (See Moore v. Cingular Wireless No. 06-1928).

 

In the context of Ms. Alexander being the former law clerk of Supreme Court Justice Blackmun, and her formerly directing Civil Rights Clinics at Stanford Law School as an associate professor, also as a lawyer who had litigated numerous class-action employment-discrimination cases, she respond to me that she was all for the aggressive pursuit of affirmativeaAction for remedial results, as she indicated that she had greatly benefitted from it in her education. Arguably, in the 7th Circuit maintaining the aforementioned “SCENDIS Report” under court seal, they see things differently, which harkens back to an earlier pronouncement made by the late Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney: “A black man has no rights a white man is bound to respect.”

Alexander sums up her book by stating: “Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination – employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service – are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and largely less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

 

Alexander wanted this book, The New Jim Crow, to be the start of an honest and frank dialogue on race and the ramifications of mass incarceration. I believe that she has done just that in this book, which I highly recommend.

 

Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, California, and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He is the President of Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry in San Diego, and a member of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Reentry Roundtable. Mr. Moore can be contacted at demoore21@sprint.blackberry.net.

 

 

The New Jim Crow book review by Dennis Moore

Dennis Moore has produced yet another finely crafted, insightful book review on a book that may well become a contemporary civil rights classic. Michelle Alexander has pointed out the elephant in the room that few have recognized and, in the process opened all of our eyes. Her research points to how a generation of young black men have been incarcerated in the flower of their youth depriving them and society of their achievements. Alexander is an intensely creative thinker and her idea that the same racial caste system that existed when blacks came to America in chains has not been resolved but reappears in different forms like an evil shape shifter. Dennis Moore’s interview of Michelle Alexander is revealing in that he is able to show us the person behind the words. This ability adds depth and dimension to his review and shows us that she was expecting her ideas to be rejected. It is also of interest that her husband is a federal prosecutor who does not share her views but is still completely supportive. These details would not be known without the book review. Dennis Moore also shares part of his own experience with the Jim Crow era and he puts a face and name on the men who are jailed and part of the “mass incarceration … designed to warehouse a population deemed disposable”. Both the book and the interview give the reader much food for thought.

Los Angeles Times Editorial References "The New Jim Crow"

Today, in an editorial by the Los Angeles Times, they state: "California should do away with the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine." The LA Times more specifically state and reference in their editorial: "In her 2010 book, 'The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,'legal scholar Michelle Alexander argued that the drug laws and the disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans are a continuation of the nation's historical repression of African Americans. Critiques from the left and right have attempted to take on whether such repression is real and, if so, conscious, subconscious, coincidental or something else. It is worthy and consequential discussion."

CASE WOULD LET THOUSANDS OF CALIF. CRIMINALS VOTE

The nonpartisan League of Women Voters and two prisoner's rights groups sued California elections officials on Wednesday, claiming that tens of thousands of criminals being shifted to county jails and community supervision should be eligible to vote. The state's new realignment law that took effect in October is sending lower-level offenders to county jails instead of to state prisons, where they are barred from voting. It also ends parole for many ex-convicts, substituting a similar program called "post-release community supervision" instead, according to an AP story by Don Thompson in the U-T San Diego. California is one of 48 states and the District of Columbia that prohibit felons from voting while they are incarcerated. The exceptions are Maine and Vermont.

 

 

 

According to The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, 35 states ban parolees from voting and 30 of the same states bar voting by people on probation as well. Four states prohibit voting by ex-felons even after they are off parole, while eight others limit when ex-felons can vote. Felons' voting rights are being debated in statehouses across the nation, particularly after the publishing of Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, the winner of the 2011 NAACP Image Award.

Try to explain that to the

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THE STRANGE DEMISE OF JIM CROW

Not all the civil rights victories of the '60s were won in front of national television cameras through violent clashes and mass demonstrations. The Strange Demise of Jim Crow reveals for the first time on film how many, perhaps most, Southern cities desegregated in a quieter, almost stealthy fashion marked by behind-the-scenes negotiations, secret deals and controversial news black-outs.

 

 

 

When student sit-ins spread to Houston, the white downtown elite entered into secret negotiations with the local black business leadership (which was secretly financing the students) to integrate 70 lunch counters in one day. They coerced local papers into not covering the story - so few people realized what was happening, including violent white supremacists. This began a pattern of threatened demonstrations followed by last minute deals which eventually led to the desegregation of hotels, movie theatres and restaurants. The Strange Demise of Jim Crow recaptures an important side of the integration story we were never intended to see. This groundbreaking film, with Creator and Executive Producer, Thomas R. Cole, and directed by David Berman, adds a new debate and angle to Michelle Alexander's scholarly work, The New Jim Crow.

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION CASE

The U.S. Supreme Court will once again confront the issue of race in university admissions in a case brought by a white student denied a spot at the flagship campus of the University of Texas, which seems to resonate with issues referenced in Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow." The court said Tuesday it will return to the issue of affirmative action in higher education for the first time since its 2003 decision endorsing the use of race as a factor in admissions. This time around, a more conservative court is being asked to outlaw the use of Texas' affirmative action plan and possibly to jettison the earlier ruling entirely, thankfully a Supreme Court not as conservative as the "Roger Taney" Supreme Court.

Review of the New Jim Crow

This topic, review, and book, should be of interest to civil/human rights activists all over the world. The struggle for human rights is a long one and the need to celebrate successes along the way does not mitigate our obligation to stay the course and make these stories heard. Good job.

Mandatory drug sentences targeted - Jesse Webster

A Senate committee approves a bipartisan bill that would cut lengthy jail terms for many offenders, according to a story by Timothy M. Phelps in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, January 31, 2014. Most mandatory drug sentences would be cut in half under a bipartisan bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, another victory in the campaign to roll back decades-old laws that require lengthy jail terms for drug offenders and, according to critics, fall heaviest on minorities. This should come as encouragement and good news for Jesse Webster of Chicago, who is serving a lifetime incarceration without parole in a Greenville federal prison in Southern Illinois for dealing drugs, not murder. Webster was sentenced in 1996 during a period when guidelines demanded harsh terms.

"The New Jim Crow"

I agree with you Ms. Egherman, that this topic and book should be of interest to civil/human rights activists all over the world, as I understand it is with your organization that focuses on promoting civility among Persian speaking communities.

 

Chapter 4 of this book, which Professor Lani Guinier at Harvard Law School states; "is a brave and bold new book that paints a haunting picture in which dreary felon garb, post-prison joblessness, and loss of voting rights now do the stigmatizing work once done by colored-only water fountains and legally segregated schools," starts with a quote from Frederick Douglass, in a statement on behalf of delegates to the National Colored Convention held in Rochester, New York, in July 1853:

 

"A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon us. As a people, we feel ourselves to be not only deeply injured, but grossly misunderstood. Our white countrymen do not know us. They are strangers to our character, ignorant of our capacity, oblivious to our history and progress, and are misinformed as to the principles and ideas that control and guide us, as a people. The great mass of American citizens estimates us as being a characterless and purposeless people; and hence we hold up our heads, if at all, against the withering influence of a nation's scorn and contempt." More than 200 years later, nothing much has changed! 

"The New Jim Crow" - NAACP Image Award

 "The New Jim Crow" is the winner of an NAACP Image Aaward and Constitutional Commentary Award.

Michael Harrington Best Book Award - "The New Jim Crow"

 Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow" has been awarded the Michael Harrington Best Book Award, given for a book of excellent academic quality with the potential to mobilize change on a pressing social and political issue.  

"The New Jim Crow" - Arseh Sevom

 Tori Egherman, who works with Arseh Sevom, an organization focused on promoting a civil society among Persian speaking communities, contacted me and said that he read my review of Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow" with interest. He actually contacted me from Amsterdam, and wanted me to expand on some aspects of my review, and to write another review of this book for more of an international audience.

Inmates freed after crack penalties eased.

Antwain Black was facing a few more years in Leavenworth for dealing crack. But on Tuesday, he was on his way home to Springfield, Ill., a free man. Black, 36, was among the first inmates who are being released early from federal prison because of an easing of the harsh penalties for crack that were enacted in the 1980s, when the drug was a terrifying new phenomenon in America's cities. The 1980s-era laws punished crack-related crimes much more severely than those involving powered cocaine - a practice criticized as racially discriminatory because most of those convicted of crack offenses were black.

"No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo has written a book in a similar vein as Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," "No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption And Retaliation At The EPA." Fearless environmental activist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Ph.D., recounts her bold stand against the EPA's corrupt and racist policies in her forthcoming memoir, "No FEAR." At the center of this story is the vanadium mines of South Africa, and how it is endangering the lives of so many there that are mining this precious mineral. TIME Magazine has referred to Marsha Coleman-Adebayo as having a streak of "Rosa Parks."

Georgia carries out execution!

With supporters claiming injustice, Davis put to death after 11th-hour appeal fails. Despite 7 witnesses recanting their earlier testimony, and no DNA or gun to be found, Troy Davis was put to death by lethal injection in Georgia.

PRISON HEALTH WORKERS RANK HIGH IN PAY SURVEY

Health workers at Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa made up 38 of the 50 highest-earning state employees in the county last year, according to a review by The Watchdog of the state's 2010 payroll, in a story August 26, 2011, in the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper.

The New Jim Crow:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

What this article is really saying about prison health workers ranking high in pay survey, is that a lot of people are benefiting from the incarceration of the mostly minority population at Donovan Prison and other prisons across the country.

THE NEW JIM CROW

I received a letter recently from Christopher Greene, who is incarcerated at Pelican Bay Prison in California, who I referenced in my review of Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow." Chris states to me in his letter: "I've been in the Crisis Receiving Intensive One on One Therapy for 137 days. I felt lost Dennis ~ afraid to parole and tired of prison ~ and still feel a little lost. I'm tired of getting out and coming Right back in ~ the Reason I felt like dying. Well in therapy they convinced me to live ~ I have a hundred Reasons to die ~ one Reason to live."

The Lighter the Skin, the Shorter the Prison Term

Colin Powell said it, Harry Reid hinted at it about Barack Obama and black folks have known it for hundreds of years. There are advantages to being a light-skinned black person in the United States. Research on those advantages isn't new, but with the release of a recent study by Villanova University, the breadth of quantitative studies that examine colorism, or discrimination based on skin tone, continues to increase. From housing opportunities to employment chances to which women have a good shot at getting married, the lighter-is-better dynamic is at play, research shows. Villanova researchers studied more than 12,000 cases of African-American women imprisoned in North Carolina and found that women with lighter skin tones received more lenient sentences and served less time than women with darker skin tomes.

"The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander

The war on drugs has failed and international policymakers need to implement reforms now, urged a commission of world leaders during a June 2 press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in New York. The Global Commission on Drug Policy outlined its declaration in a report, "War on Drugs." The decades-old effort has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, fueled organized crime, stigmatized and criminalized drug users, and cost thousands of lives, the commission concluded. Of course, and as Michelle Alexander indicated in her book, all of this has a disporportionate impact on black America.

Young Males of Color Likely to End up Jobless, Imprisonned

Fifty-one percent of Hispanic male high school graduates ages 15-24 and 45 percent of African-American males in that category will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead, according to a study issued this week by the College Board's Advocacy & Policy Center.

The New Jim Crow

A companion report, "The Education Experience of Young Men of Color: Capturing the Student Voice," was also released.

Court Ruling Buoys 3-Strikes Foes

"The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week requiring California to cut its prison population by more than 33,000 inmates within two years could boost efforts to modify or repeal the state's three-strikes law, which some say keeps nonviolent offenders in prison for far too long." This was the front page story in the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper by Dana Littlefield, Union-Tribune reporter.

The New Jim Crow

"We over-incarcerate in California, and this U.S. Supreme Court decision is an impetus to change that," said Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean at the University of California Irvine Law School, this, according to San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper reporter Dana Littlefield.

Three Strikes and the Prison Industrial Complex under Review

Rose Davis, the editor of Indian Voices newspaper, upon coming back from a two day brain storming session that took place in Los Angeles at a symposium sponsored by New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice's Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the University of Southern California, stated in the May issue of Indian Voices: "Institutionalized racism within the police-court-prison and its impact on the poor African-American, Latino, and Native American communities created a lively discussion at the conference of experts, guided by center director Stephen Handelman and Joe Domanick, the associate director."

The New Jim Crow: "In Prison Reform, Money Trumps Civil Rights"

As an Op-Ed Contributor, Michelle Alexander recently stated: "The legal scholar Derrick A. Bell foresaw that mass incarceration, like earlier systems of racial control, would continue to exist as long as it served the perceived interests of white elites."

Supreme Court Denies Payments to Wrongfully Incarcerated Man

The Supreme Court recently overturned, in a 5-4 vote, a $14 million jury award a Black man who was freed from death row after it was found prosecutors withheld key evidence in his case. The money had been awarded to John Thompson, who spent 18 years in prison, including 14 years on death row, for a 1984 armed robbery and a murder conviction. He was reportedly just weeks away from execution when his lawyers unearthed proof that prosecutors had withheld evidence, including eyewitness reports pointing to a suspect that did not look like Thompson and blood tests that established he wasn't at the scene.

"The New Jim Crow" - John Thompson

Thompson then sued New Orleans former District Attorney Harry F. Connick for withholding evidence that could have resulted in an acquittal and failing to properly train prosecutors. Thompson was awarded $14 million in damages in a civil suit, but the prosecutor's office appealed the verdict and the case wound up before the high court. On behalf of the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said there was an "absence of proof" that such prosecutorial misconduct was a regular occurrence in the New Orleans district attorney's office or that it was a result of insufficient training.

The New Jim Crow - Justice Clarence Thomas' Opinion

"By their own admission, the prosecutors who tried Thompson's armed robbery case failed to carry out (justice," Thomas wrote in the opinion. "But the only issue before us is whether Connick, as the policy maker for the district attorney's office, was deliberately indifferent to the need to train the attorneys under his authority."

The New Jim Crow - Justice Clarence Thomas' Opinion

"By their own admission, the prosecutors who tried Thompson's armed robbery case failed to carry out (justice," Thomas wrote in the opinion. "But the only issue before us is whether Connick, as the policy maker for the district attorney's office, was deliberately indifferent to the need to train the attorneys under his authority."

The New Jim Crow - Dissenting Opinion

But in a dissenting opinion, supported by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that "no fewer than five prosecutors" were involved in a violation of Mr. Thompson's constitutional rights. "They kept from him, year upon year, evidence vital to his defense."

Inmates' Added Burden: "Pay to Stay" Fees

Inmates in prisons and jails, even minor offenders, are finding they not only have to do the time, but they have to pay-for booking, rent, routine medical care, and even electronic monitoring once they are released, according to a report by Kenneth J. Cooper, "Special to the NNPA."

More Black Men Now in Prison System than Were Enslaved

"More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began," Michelle Alexander told a standing room only house at the Pasadena Main Library this past Wednesday, the first of many jarring points she made in a riveting presentation.

"The New Jim Crow"

While a guest on an internet radio show for writers, I put in a plug for Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow," which I had earlier written the review for.

"Bill Lerach: Life After Prison"

In an October 4, 2010, story in the San Diego Metro Magazine, former partner of the law firm, Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach, states: "When asked his view of the criminal justice system, now that he has spent some time behind bars, Lerach opined that there 'is so much wrong with the system and I'm sure there are those who do not want to hear it from someone who has been through it, from my perspective. But all I can tell you is, from my own experience, that there seems to be a disproportionate number of young African-Americans, Hispanics and some white men, whose lives are being crushed and ruined and, of course, the lives of their loved ones who are also being crushed and ruined, by gigantic sentences for, honestly, what don't seem to me to be, and maybe it depends on your own value system, horrible crimes. 'I realize that different people have different views about the drug problem and the collateral crime that it creates, but all I know is that when I was in jail, I met a lot of what seem to be perfectly good, decent men of all races, young men, whose lives have been ruined.'"

This is very interesting coming from Bill Lerach, especially considering the fact that while he was with Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach, they partnered with Leeds, Morelli and Brown in the referenced Cingular Wireless/AT&T case, to represent a class of disenfranchised black employees.

Seeing the forest and the trees

Your comments make me wish there were more white people
that share your view. There is a serious problem with those who
Get offended when black folks point out acts of racism weather it is
in the prison system or within the corporation's labour structure.

When I brought the "kill The Nigger" sign to the attention of my employer
AT&T the HR manager told me that my department was offended, but all I did was to ask
that it be removed. I imediately responded to her and said how can they be offended
when the sign insults the only two blacks working here.

Since I grew up on the South side of Chicago I was used to being stopped
For no other reason than driving while being black at any time I could have been
Thrown in jail for any trumped up reason. I remember two cops stopped me because
I made a right turn on a red light at 99th and Stony Island
The cops handcuff me threw me in the back of the squad car and took me to
86 and vincencens where after successfully scaring me gave me a ticket and let me go
One cop drove my new mustang GT while I was cuffed and made to sit in the back
of a very uncomfortable squad car feeling the metal cuffs digging into my wrists.

Even though I was considered a respectfully business owner at the time I would not dare
Mention the word racism or racial profiling. I do believe God was the author of my fate this is why I have survived.

I wish more white people like you were willing to see the forest and the trees then maybe we could start to heal this place we call America.

Most white people get offended when we the victims of racism
Seek justice they say we complain too much, now they say we have a black president
Racism is over what else do we need?

"The New Jim Crow"

Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking book was the subject for roundtable discussion during "Standing and Understand Together for Change" on February 25th at Brooklyn College, which was sponsored by BC Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Brooklyn College.

Seeing the Forest and the Trees

This is a very useful review, that adds to Michelle Alexander's enormously important book. As a white man who had been active in the southern civil rights movement in the 1960s, and as an attorney who represented a black man on California's death row for two decades, I thought I was familiar with the contemporary history of racism in America and with the terrible developments in criminal law that have laid waste to our constitutional rights. But after reading Alexander's book, I realized I had not seen the forest for the trees.

Alexander makes clear that it is not a matter of uneven progress, or that we "still have a long way to go." No, for an enormous proportion of people of color in America -- and especially for demonized African American men -- there has been no progress, and America may have gone backward. The term "wake-up call" seems like a cliche. But that is what this book is. Everyone who has been concerned about racial justice in America should read The New Jim Crow and ponder how we can attack the racially discriminatory program of mass incarceration that represents America's new caste system. Thank you, Dennis, for drawing our attention to Alexander's work.

SCENDIS Report

This is a most revealing comment being made by Attorney Mitchell Zimmerman, as it brings to mind a report commissioned by Cingular Wireless/AT&T in 2001, the "SCENDIS Report." This was purportedly a report of self-reflection, or how the company was dealing with issues of race and gender. The report got to be a very sensitive document, as the unredacted copy was put under federal court seal in Chicago, which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review and consider the issue.

Specifically, the redacted version of the SCENDIS Report had Management Focus Groups (Birmingham, Chicago) stating: "Affirmative action will hurt the company." It further states: "Still some cultural differences, two years later, that haven't been worked out; it affects job performance." Clearly, there seemed to have been a racial and cultural bias at the company, which is probably why the company was so intent on putting the SCENDIS Report under court seal.

Attorney Zimmerman, a self-admitted white attorney, states in his comments in regard to "The New Jim Crow"; "Everyone who has been concerned about racial justice in America should read "The New Jim Crow" and ponder how we can attack the racially discriminatory program of mass incarceration that represents America's new caste system." Clearly, racism and discrimination affects all aspects of our lives, and not just our criminal justice system, yet, we find a major corporation hiding under the cloak of the "SCENDIS Report." Just what more is in that report that would have Cingular Wireless/AT&T fight so vigorously to keep it under court seal?

Additionally, a report in the American Journal of Public Health (October 1996, Vol. 86, No. 10), by Dr. Nancy Krieger and Dr. Stephen Sidney, reached conclusions stating: "Research on racial/ethnic distributions of blood pressure should take into account how discrimination may harm health." This was called "The CARDIA Study of Young Black and White Adults." The report further stated: "Results suggested that elevated blood pressure was associated with racial discrimination at work, exposure to movie scenes depicting angry and racist confrontations, and an internalized response to racial discrimination and unfair treatment." Yet, Cingular Wireless/AT&T would vigorously attempt to keep the "SCENDIS Report" under court seal. What do they have to hide?

SCENDIS old news is New news RCR wireless

Cingular report at odds with public statements
November 8 2004 - 6:00 am ET | Jeffrey Silva | 8

WASHINGTON-Key documents appear to contradict public statements by Cingular Wireless L.L.C. on workforce diversity allegations in three discrimination lawsuits and on a confidential report prepared by an outside consultant for the new No. 1 wireless carrier.

A redacted copy of the Scendis Report obtained by RCR Wireless News reveals racial, ethnic and gender tensions throughout Cingular. The redacted report includes questions posed by Scendis to a broad cross section of Cingular employees around the country and a sampling of their answers. The full Scendis Report includes questions and answers as well as analysis and recommendations on, among other things, "actions that Cingular might take to promote a more diverse workforce."

Scendis L.L.C.'s self-described mission is to help firms prevent sensitive and high-risk workplace issues from becoming high-cost problems.

RCR Wireless News published a Sept. 20 story on allegations in the discrimination suits filed by several African-American men and a Hispanic man.

In an Oct. 4 letter to the editor, several Cingular executives took issue with the article. Five executives downplayed the lawsuits and said Cingular had a strong record in workforce diversity-particularly regarding senior management-that has been recognized by a number of magazines and by the Department of Labor.

Cingular's executives also said in the letter that the fact that the story "mentions that we hired a consulting firm in the past to help us deal with diversity issues is just plain wrong."

They continued, "We hired that consulting firm three months after Cingular was formed to help determine our culture-benefits, working conditions, etc.-that our employees would find attractive; and to identify the companies that have developed the exemplary type culture we wanted to create so we could bench against them." The letter to the editor was signed by Ralph de la Vega, chief operating officer; Joaquin Carbonell, executive vice president-general counsel; Rick Bradley, executive vice president of human resources; Thaddeus Arroyo, chief information officer; and Carol Tacker, vice president-assistance general counsel corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.

Court filings and other documents, however, appear to show Scendis' focus was far narrower than characterized by Cingular executives. Moreover, the documents raise questions about the executives' statement on when Scendis was hired.

The key theme throughout the Scendis Report is workplace diversity. Indeed, the heading on the first page of the 26-page Scendis Report is Cingular Diversity Initiative Summary/Results of Focus Groups.

Separately, in an Aug. 27, 2003, sworn declaration in one of the discrimination suits in Chicago federal court, Russell K. Jensen, chief counsel, labor and human resources at Cingular Wireless, described a rationale for hiring Scendis that appears strikingly differently from the explanation of company executives in the Oct. 4 letter to the editor.

"Cingular Wireless determined that it should conduct a review of its diversity and affirmative action efforts to assist it in meeting its obligations under Executive Order 11246. Cingular Wireless, therefore, contracted with a third-party consulting firm known as Scendis, to assist its efforts in performing a self-critical analysis of the company's diversity and affirmative-action efforts and success in achieving those goals," said Jensen.

Executive Order 11246 is the Equal Employment Opportunity law of 1965.

Jensen said Cingular made the decision to review diversity issues in the summer of 2001, and it subsequently hired Scendis. The redacted Scendis Report does not include a date, and it is unclear when Cingular executives actually received copies of the unredacted report. However, Scendis states in the report the 22 focus groups and employee interviews were conducted in October 2001. While African-American men and women at Cingular were highly critical of their workplace environment, some Asian female and male employees and white male workers praised the company.

In their October letter to the editor, Cingular executives said the decision to contract with Scendis was made three months after Cingular was formed. Cingular was created in October 2000.

Asked for reaction on the redacted Scendis Report and why its contents as well as the sworn Jensen declaration appear at odds with Cingular executives' public comments on the report and the discrimination lawsuits, Cingular declined to comment.

In an informal survey of workplace diversity at other nationwide wireless carriers, representatives at Sprint Corp., parent company of Sprint PCS; Verizon Wireless; and Nextel Communications Inc. said in phone interviews their firms had aggressive programs to promote diversity and inclusion. The firms declined to say whether they have faced discrimination lawsuits.

T-Mobile USA Inc. chose not to comment on the firm's diversity programs. "We are an affirmative-action employer committed to equal employment opportunity," said Richard Brudvik-Lindner, a T-Mobile spokesman.

In 2002, T-Mobile and Chicago-based Skyworld Communications Inc.-a bankrupt wireless dealer headed by an African-American man-reached a confidential settlement of a $23 million lawsuit with racial overtones.

"We feel good about it [diversity]. Not only is it the right thing to do. It's the right thing for the marketplace we serve," said Russell Wilkerson, director of corporate communications at Nextel.

In 2000, a slew of discrimination complaints were filed by Nextel employees-many African American-in 11 states. Nextel eventually settled with the employees.

SCENDIS

The black to White employee ratio in Chicago
AT&T Mobility is 100 to 1 not 10 to 1

SCENDIS Report

This Same SCENDIS report was the reason AT&T wanted to Settle
In judge Plunket's Court room. This report is an embarrassment for AT&T because
It reveals what black employees endure at the hands of their white managers
Who's numbers as compared to black managers within AT&T is 10 to 1. There is a caste system
At AT&T where blacks are placed in a holding pattern and tatics are used to keep them
In the lower non-management class of employees, a foot on the neck attitude.
Except for the untouchables (AT&T's white privileged employees) if you speak up at AT&T you
Will pay as I have experienced the attitude can be related to or reflect "JIm Crow Type Tactics"
I remember a Chicago Suntime reporter told us that the reason there would be reluctance to
Print a negative story about AT&T and its discriminatory practices is because AT&T pay them too much money for advertising. The same problem exists unlike the Suntimes in some case of no choice with some black organization who battle with
Standing up against the Telecom Giant because they get money from AT&T for education and other seemingly good issues. But at what cost give us money for educational programs and charity but AT&T will not hire us or promote us in the work place as I have experienced here for almost 18 years it reminds me of Jim Crow tactics with a touch of Natzism for taste. The batch is bitter and undivestable AT&T needs new cooks in the kitchen, blacks are banned from kitchen according to the SCENDIS report.

Discrimination continued

I have been an AT&T Mobility/Cingular/CellularOne employee for the past 17 years. There is not enough space on this blog for me to explain or list my experience of discrimination/retaliation/harassment/and intimidation against me by my employer.

However, after listening to Ms. Alexander speak not only on the issues of Discrimination and bias within the prison system and the courts but in general she spoke about racism and discrimination and how it affects black people.

I needed to respond, I could only convey my experiences the acts of discrimination I have endured at my present employer AT&T.

I should have suspected a pattern and a culture of racial discrimination and a hostile work environment within AT&T when Walter Payton (Chicago Bears) walked into our Field Service office in Schaumberg in 1993, when he saw me he said to management “you guys finally hired a black man” because Mr. Payton was a jokester I did not pay much attention to his comments at the time. I was working at Cellular One less than a year when this happened, I was surprised to meet one of the greatest running back in person for the first time but was also surprised at his comments, Payton’s comments did cause me to become aware of the treatment by Cellularone/AT&T of their black employees.

Before Mr. Payton made his comments, I did notice some difference in treatment for me and the other black employees like Ron Foster where we were treated less favorably than white employees, then It was as if Mr. Payton’s comments turned on the discrimination awareness switch that was dormant within me, now it seemed that the white management had become offended at Mr. Payton’s comments.

In 1993 not long after Mr. Payton’s comments, I was offered a position at another company making $15000.00 more than my present pay at Cellular One/ AT&T my manager at the time Mr. Taylor called me in his office after a white employee overheard the my conversation for the new job offer, my white manager threatened to black list me if I was to leave the company, he did not provide any explanation or reasons for his threats. Taylor did not do this to the white technician Mark who left the company to pursue other endeavors.

Shortly after I applied for a position in the Field Operations department as a Field Technician. Although the new job was a higher position AT&T made it a lateral shift regarding my salary, I later found out that less qualified whites also hired on as Field Technicians were being paid as much as $5000.00 more than what I was being paid, this is why our pay were kept a secret until the ratification of the CWA union contract in or around 2002.

It became more obvious that there was a culture of disparate treatments for blacks within AT&T. After being provided less training than my similarly situated white coworkers and being pass over numerous times for promotions which were given to less qualified white workers including those who I had trained, it became painfully obvious that AT&T had a serious problem with race bias.

I would endure this treatment for the next 8 years while complaining to management or inquiring as to why blacks were being treated less favorably. I was finally exposed to what AT&T was all about, preventing blacks from leadership positions within the company while keeping us in lower menial job categories.

I have sued AT&T twice now out of three possible suits for discrimination my first EEOC RTS (Right to Sue) letter was taken from the EEOC without my knowledge by LMB and it seem that this law firm negotiated with AT&T to walk away from the case, we suspected that LMB (Leeds Morelli and Brown) got paid by AT&T to walk away from the case. Leeds Morelli and Brown a New York law firm who had represented over 30 AT&T workers in Chicago were sued by other former clients for taking under the table payouts to stop discrimination law suits from going to trial.

ABC Sarah Wallace reported: (New York- WABC, May 10, 2006) (WABC) – “There is a victory for former employees of Prudential Insurance. They have for years claimed that the law firm they hired to represent them against Prudential, instead sold them out. Now, documents are about to be unsealed and they will get their day in court. What these men and others say they didn't know is that Prudential and LMB entered into a separate secret agreement, which we obtained. The law firm got $5,000,000 from Prudential up front. The companies deny that was improper. Plaintiff sent a certified letter and also verbally notified Lenard Leeds and James Vagnini partners of LMB firm that he would take action holding them responsible for their illegal actions that destroyed his case and denied him due process. Plaintiff did not leave the company (AT&T) on the record Plaintiff believes AT&T’s actions are purposed to discourage, wear him down destroy his spirit to dissuade him and other employees in the protected class from opposing discrimination.

I am on my third case presently still fighting to stop AT&T from discriminating, harassing and retaliating against black employees like me who decide to speak up.

The SCENDIS report that is under seal in the Federal Courts proves AT&T’s guilt of ignoring obvious bias and shows in their own words their white management’s dislike for black people.

I hope to bring awareness to black people as Reckless Beckless once asked “Does Cingular Deserve our Business” for this black employee at this time AT&T Do Not Deserve Our Business, until they recognize the problems and fix them similarly to how Coke repaired their discrimination problems. Right now AT&T is stating that they are perfectly innocent when it relates to discrimination charges. “And pigs fly” I make these statements based on my experiences at the hands of my employer and have sworn to my above statements as being absolutely true to the best of my knowledge “So help me God”.

"The New Jim Crow"

I, too, met and talked with the legendary NFL Hall of Fame football player Walter Payton. We were actually on an elevator together in a suburb of Chicago, and he playfully tried to get me to vouch to something to another person. This was several months before I would start my employment with CellularOne/AT&T, as a customer service representative in their Shaumburg, Illinois office. Walter Payton was one of the nicest persons that I had ever known or met. I recall the actual day that he died, which was several months before I was promoted to a Buyer with CellularOne/AT&T. During my less than two years as a Buyer with the company, I would issue more than $40 million dollars in purchase orders to support their wireless network, yet it wasn't sufficient to get the promotion to Purchasing Agent. Instead, it went to a less-senior white female that I had assisted in training to be a Buyer.

Discrimination

There is nothing more awakening than to experience racism or discrimination
and to find out that the very laws created to defend you against racism
seem to work against you.

I am one of only two black technicians working for AT&T in my department in
the Chicago market. My employer have attempted to fire me for speaking up
Or complaining about discrimination I have suffered over the past 17 years of my
employment.
White techs who I trained were promoted before me, I was told by my manager
who suggested that giving him oral sex would speed up my promotion,
Kill The Nigger sign was posted on a site in my work area where the two black
workers serviced, one of my coworker told me that he was interrogated for 5 hours
Because he went to the EEOC, he was also told by a white coworker how would you like
Me to "F--k" your wife.

Sealed SCENDIS report in federal court, Leeds Morelli& Brown undertable
Payments? AT&T recently lost discrimination case in Texas?

One way or another the truth must come out. My former coworker Mr. Moore
Has great insights on the subject since he has suffered like I have.

My employer who have always known about this type of problems within
their ranks but have refused to fix the problems which we would have welcomed
Instead they continue to fight us in court to down play the issues and divert embarrassment

LMB Leeds Morelli & Brown under the table payoff? The SCENDIS report sealed in Federal court
In Chicago
the Discrimination law suit AT&T recently lost in Texas, my present case against AT&T

Dennis, You have done a great

Dennis, You have done a great service to the American Public in reviewing Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." I read Michelle Alexander's book after having read "Slavery by Another Name" by Douglas Blackmon which Michelle frequently reference when laying down the foundation of how mass incarceration came to be a social crises of such epidemic proportions today.

She traces the common thread that started with slavery and was reinvented after the Civil War as the Convict Laws became the popular among Southerners. She mentions that the Convict laws are usually not considered to be part of the "Black Codes" which were laws that severely restricted the movements and employment of newly freed blacks as well as forbidding gatherings of more than two people of the street. Under the Convict Laws, newly freed blacks became targets, and were picked up for minor violations such as loitering, being unemployed and other misdemeanors. Not being able to pay the fines, they were leased out to local businesses, mining companies and railroad companies. Jim Crow followed with segregation, underemployment, poor educational facilities and threats of violence and actual violence.

After Brown v. Board of education, segregation ended but the mindset did not. Politicians scrambled to restrict the freedom of black people and re-establish the status quo. Nixon came up with the idea of the "War of Drugs" but it was Reagan that implemented it. (You'll have to read the book to see how this happened). The new war was waged in predominately black communities. The idea of drug dealer being a young black man with his pants hanging down is a media created image that started with "crack babies" and "welfare queens" as propaganda to justify this new system of control over black lives. Michelle's book is a must read for anyone interested in the "Human Rights Crises" on our door stop that has destroyed so many families and communities.

Dennis, you have done as excellent job covering the topics of profit and the expansion of prisons and the ever-lengthening prison terms now given to non-violent offenders. Michelle covers these horrifying statistics as well.

I read Stockley Carmichael some years back; he invented the term "Institutional Racism" and expressed the dangers and insidious nature of such a creature and talked about how difficult it would be to root out and deconstruct once it was established. That is covered in depth in "The New Jim Crow." Throughout Michelle Alexander's book you hear the voice of Mr. Carmichael echoing throughout the pages.

"The New Jim Crow"

TJ Dunnivant, a Staff Writer for the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, referenced Michelle Alexander's book in her recent story of a community forum on human exploitation and sex trafficking at Porter Elementary school.

"The New Jim Crow"

Thank you Cynthia, I was given great material to work with, in my review of Michelle Alexander's book. There are actually a lot of dynamics involved in the mass incarceration of African-American men, not to mention your reference to Stokeley Carmichael. I grew up in the Stokely Carmichael era, when he and "H" Rap Brown were stating that "violence was as American as apple pie." Unless we find some humane way of dealing with the inherent inequities of the mass incarceration of people of color, we may find the ravings of Carmichael and Brown to be prophetic, and the findings revealed in Michelle Alexander's book to be falling on death ears. The author has started a dialogue, a discussion, that we as a civilized society needs to heed.

The CARDIA Study of Young Black and White Adults

Dr. Nancy Krieger, Associate Professor at Harvard University, wrote a study on Racial Discrimination and Blood Pressure, along with Dr. Stephen Sidney, in which their study examined associations between blood pressure and self-reported experiences of racial discrimination and responses to unfair treatment, that relates to Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow."

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