Measured by any metric, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness is a scathing and utterly contemporary critique of American laws.

Now, a crowdfunding effort wants to bring the bestseller to the airwaves.

Alexander has argued that the confluence of many new sentencing laws in recent decades has created an inescapable web of penalty, deprivation and economic traps against the poorest Americans. As we know a disproportionate number of poor Americans are black and brown. A pervasive racial bias in law, particularly Drug War legislation has hit minority groups and resulted in stark, debilitating and unjust institutional racism.

NPR set up its interview with Alexander as follows:

“Alexander argues many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalised and disenfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.”

More here, here, here and here.

In a March OpEd for the New York Times, Alexander highlighted the story of her friend Susan Burton, a criminal justice activist and formerly incarcerated African American woman, who has suggested that defendants demand trials in order to clog up the courts system.

She’s incendiary … and she’s closer to the truth than most commentators dare to believe.


Wanting to propel the message and capitalise on the unusually wide appeal of a book on criminal justice, radio documentarian Chris Moore-Backman wants to produce five radio documentaries, and to publish and promote a CD box set of the series along with a companion discussion guide.

Moore-Backman plans the following five hour long episodes for the series Bringing Down the New Jim Crow:

(1) Frat Row vs. Skid Row: The Racial/Socio-Economic Disproportionality of Drug Law Enforcement;
(2) Living with the New Jim Crow: Conversations with Loved Ones of Incarcerated Men and Women of Color;
(3) The War On Drugs: Human Rights Nightmare on Both Sides of the Border;
(4) Still At It: Veterans of the African-American Freedom Movement on the New Jim Crow;
(5) White Allyship in the Era of Mass Incarceration


If this is something you’d like to help get off the ground and hear the product, please consider donating.

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Chris Moore-Backman is a radio documentarian, nonviolence educator/trainer, musician and father. He is based in Chico, California.

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. As an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, she directed the Civil Rights Clinic and pursued a research agenda focused on the intersection of race and criminal justice.

In 2005, Alexander won a Soros Justice Fellowship that supported the writing of The New Jim Crow and accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining academia, Alexander engaged in civil rights litigation in both the private and nonprofit sector, ultimately serving as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she helped lead a national campaign against racial profiling. Currently she devotes her time to freelance writing, public speaking, consulting, and caring for her three young children.

Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. She has clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC, among other media outlets. The New Jim Crow is her first book.

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